Alaska Airlines Suffers Computer Systems Outage After Sprint Accidentally Cut Fiber Optic Cable

Not totally unlike when I yell to my roommate in the other room “Hey! The Internet is out — did you unplug something?” Alaska Airlines suffered a pretty severe computer system outage today after a cable in a Sprint fiber optic network in Wisconsin was cut. The disconnect rendered the airline basically powerless, delaying flights at all of its 64 destinations.

Alaska Airlines took to Facebook this morning to alert travelers of the problem, posting:

“At 7:30 a.m. PST, Sprint, Alaska Airlines’ Internet provider, went down after a fiber network cable was cut in the Midwest. Sprint provides us with connectivity to Sabre, the system used for reservations, check-in and to purchase tickets. The outage is preventing customers from checking in and is causing delays systemwide.

The Associated Press says the system was out of commission for five hours, stranding passengers at airports across the country while it was down. Those delays are likely to continue, said Alaska Airlines on its Facebook page, even though the connection has been restored.

“Customers can can expect long delays at the airport while we work to get our operation back to normal. Customers are advised to check the status of their flights before they leave for the airport. They can do that using Alaska’s mobile apps for the iPhone and Android, Alaska’s mobile site or alaskaair.com. The email and trip alert may not have the most current data.”

Earlier today Alaska Airlines informed customers on its Facebook page that it was going to have to manually board and release every single flight. Quite a tricky process when all those flights are usually handled by a computer system.

Alaska Airlines has about 436 flights a day on average, which makes this whole snafu a pretty big problem for all those passengers. The AP says passengers were offered to leave the airport and rebook flights at no charge tonight or tomorrow, but how does one get their time refunded? That’s the crummy part of the whole thing.

Alaska Airlines: Our ticketing system up and running again [Associated Press]