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Reservations glitches dog Virgin America fliers

Virgin America passengers have been stung by travel glitches that have persisted since the carrier switched its reservation system nearly two months ago.

The Wall Street Journal writes Virgin America has suffered “a rocky transition since it switched to a new reservations system on Oct. 28, with some passengers unable to modify their flights online, book flights or check in on the carrier’s website. (Virgin America CEO David) Cush said Wednesday that most of the bugs have been fixed and that 95% of transactions now are successful.”

Still, he tells the Journal that wait times for the airline’s call centers are averaging about 14 minutes and that it’s taking reservations agents 30%-40% more time than it did before when they’re asked to help customers book travel.

The Journal mentions Virgin America’s reservations glitches today in a story today about the airline’s third-quarter earnings results – a $3.3 million loss.

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But the glitches are the main focus of a Tuesday column on The Cranky Flier website.

In that piece, Cranky Flier author Brett Snyder concedes that “a reservation system change is a major undertaking” for an airline, but adds that – despite preparations for the switch – this one apparently was more than Virgin America bargained for.

THE CRANKKY FLIER:  Virgin America still having major system problems

Snyder talks readers through some of the details, but he also offers an interesting take on why the ongoing Virgin America snafu hasn’t been more widely picked up in the national media.

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On that point, Snyder writes:

Were it anyone else, people would be crucifying the airline. Virgin America, however, just doesn’t serve as many cities and doesn’t have the exposure that others would get when there’s a major failure like this one. Remember when US Airways transferred over to the pre-merger America West technology? For a couple of days, people were angry at what a mess it was. But that was just a couple of days. JetBlue and WestJet have also made reservation system transitions but none have seen the painful, persistent problems that have plagued Virgin America customers.

Technology-focused website VentureBeat notes in a Dec. 5 story that the glitches have led to a deluge of gripes on social media sites like Twitter. And the stream of complaints appears to have continued through today.

All of that comes against the backdrop of Virgin America’s reputation as one of the most savvy airlines in the realm of social media marketing.

In the meantime, the airline has apologized to customers and has pledged to do all it can to help affected passengers.

On its website, Virgin America says acknowledges the difficulties, saying: “We apologize to all our guests and appreciate your patience.”

The airline offers tips on how to troubleshoot some common problems.

Additionally, Virgin America tells The Cranky Flier it will waive change and cancellation fees for affected customers and credit them with enough frequent-flier points for a free flight.

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Virgin America continues to be stung by glitches that have lingered since the carrier switched its reservation system more than a month ago.

The Wall Street Journal writes Virgin America has suffered “a rocky transition since it switched to a new reservations system on Oct. 28, with some passengers unable to modify their flights online, book flights or check in on the carrier’s website. (Virgin America CEO David) Cush said Wednesday that most of the bugs have been fixed and that 95% of transactions now are successful.”

Still, he acknowledged to the Journal that wait times for the airline’s call centers are averaging about 14 minutes and that it’s taking reservations agents 30%-40% more time than it did before the change to help customers book travel.

The Journal mentioned Virgin America’s reservations glitches today in a story today about the airline’s third-quarter earnings results – a $3.3 million loss.

But the glitches are the main focus of a Tuesday column on The Cranky Flier website.

In that column, Cranky Flier author Brett Snyder acknowledges that “a reservation system change is a major undertaking” for an airline, but adds that – despite preparations for the switch – this one apparently was more than Virgin America bargained for.

Snyder talks readers through some of the details involved, but he also offers this interesting take on why the ongoing Virgin America snafu hasn’t been widely picked up in the national media.

Snyder writes:

Were it anyone else, people would be crucifying the airline. Virgin America, however, just doesn’t serve as many cities and doesn’t have the exposure that others would get when there’s a major failure like this one. Remember when US Airways transferred over to the pre-merger America West technology? For a couple of days, people were angry at what a mess it was. But that was just a couple of days. JetBlue and WestJet have also made reservation system transitions but none have seen the painful, persistent problems that have plagued Virgin America customers.

In the meantime, the airline has apologized to customers and has pledged to do all it can to help affected passengers.

On its website, Virgin America says acknowledges the difficulties, saying: “We apologize to all our guests and appreciate your patience.”

The airline offers tips on how to troubleshoot some common problems. Additionally, Virgin America tells The Cranky Flier it will waive change and cancellation fees for affected customers and credit them with enough frequent-flier points for a free flight.

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