Virgin America's Brand New Sabre Reservation System Hits Turbulence

Virgin America has hit some extreme turbulence ever since they switched to a new Sabre Airline Solutions reservation system on Saturday. Travelers are lighting up the inter-boards with complaints that they can’t make or change their reservations, and call centers are swamped, with customers having to wait over four hours on hold.

On their website, Virgin acknowledged that travelers “may experience a few bumps as we finish our transition from the old system to the new.”

“Guests are temporarily unable to make cancellations or changes through virginamerica.com,” and “some users are encountering errors when trying to complete bookings on virginamerica.com,” said the airline. Neither can travelers look up future flights. Virgin America said they were experiencing high call volume and long wait times for their customer service line.

“We continue to work through web issues,” said Virgin America. “We apologize for this inconvenience and expect to have these issues addressed soon.”

Virgin America’s CEO David Cush had high-flying hopes for the efficiencies the Sabre system would deliver when the move was announced back in January. “…[M]oving to Sabre’s integrated reservations and operational platforms will enhance our revenue reach, improve our operating efficiencies and further position us for growth ahead,” he said at the time. While that payoff remains to be seen, in the meantime, the new reservation system simply isn’t cleared for takeoff.

“There website and kiosks haven’t worked for 4 days now!” wrote Consumerist reader Peter in an email. “You can’t book a flight, cancel a flight or anything else without going through their call center (with 4+ hour waits).”

Virgin America’s Twitter account is dashing around responding to angry tweets from customers who can’t use the new reservation system. Twitter user @proturdpolisher wrote early this morning, “@virginamerica- EPIC service fail, will never fly your airline again. Been trying to get through for 2 days.” Virgin is responding to her and others like her with tweets expressing their sincere apologies and asking the Twitter users to follow their account so they can direct message about the issue. It wasn’t immediately apparent if the direct message route was helping these customers fix their reservations any faster.

If you haven’t already booked with Virgin America but need to do so, they also book flights through Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Priceline, whose websites are operational.

Virgin America didn’t respond to a request for an ETA on when their reservation system would be fixed.