Virgin Australia Inaccessible Site Surprises Customers

16th Jan 2013

Customers trying to book flights for Virgin Australia last weekend were surprised to find its website inaccessible as the airline switched over to an all-new check-in and booking system.

Despite the slight disruption, all flights went as scheduled for those days, according to the airline.

The passengers were already advised ahead of the impending changeover of the new system so no major problems were encountered.

The new system, called Sabre, replaced the old Navitaire and Amadeus platforms of the airline's domestic and international flights, respectively.

The airline opened its online check-in facility a full 36 hours ahead for the Saturday's flights, instead of the usual 24 hours. The online booking facility went offline at 2am on Saturday leaving customers no other options but drove to the airport to physically check-in and for their booking needs.

The airline advised their customers to go to the airport an hour before their scheduled departure if they travel on domestic flight and three hours, if they travel on international flights.

Though the airline's online and mobile check-in facility was expected to go back online on the 14th of January, they still advised their clients to adopt those extra hours ahead of their flight schedule through the 20th of the month.

Velocity also going offline

Virgin Australia's Velocity Frequent Flyer programme also was affected by the migration of its system. Travelers were unable to access the Velocity website as early as10:30 pm Wednesday or three days prior to the scheduled changeover.

Velocity's website went back online, as expected, on Monday, January 14th, along with the booking and check-in facilities.

The old system was, according to the airline, a very simple software usually preferred by a number of low-cost carriers who have simple needs in their systems.

Sabre, on the other hand, boasts of extensive capabilities which would certainly streamline Virgin Australia's operations. It would also enhance the airline's booking procedure and even improve the travel experience with its partner carriers such as Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Virgin America. Virgin America has been using the Sabre system already while Etihad is yet to adopt the new system next month.

On the new system, issuance of boarding passes and even checking of baggage can now be done at once even for passengers with connecting flights on codeshare carriers. So that when a passenger is flying with Virgin Australia to Los Angeles and has a connecting flight to Seattle with a codeshare airline, Virgin America, he would no longer need to fall in line at LAX.

According to Virgin Australia, Sabre makes things easy and simple making everyone's travel experience unforgettable. Its superior capabilities make it an obvious choice for airlines who want to offer their customers hassle-free travel experience.

The new system has also the ability to book flights on partner airlines using their frequent flyer points and even allows other airlines to recognize perks or privilege from your airline.

But Andrew Lillyman, Virgin Australia?s General Manager for Next Generation System, would like to point out that it still depends on other airline's own system capabilities.