What the Heck is Going on With Virgin America’s Computers?

By  |  Monday, May 16, 2011 at 12:48 am

Virgin America is my favorite airline. Actually, it may be my favorite company, period, at least among large ones that I give money to on a regular basis. It’s a tech-savvy airline for tech-savvy people, with Wi-Fi on every flight, power in every row, and an at-seat entertainment and information system with umpteen features (my favorite: the ability to order a Diet Coke at any time). Just as important, Virgin also has employees that live up to the concept of the Friendly Skies in a way that a certain other airline I used to fly a lot doesn’t match.

Usually, the Virgin Web site is part of what I like about it–it’s nicely designed and makes buying tickets and checking in pretty painless. But at the moment,¬†the site is down. The notice alerting visitors to that fact has a timestamp of 5pm on Sunday night; as far as I can tell, though, it’s been suffering from nagging problems for days now. It’s been nearly a week since I started trying to book a trip to San Diego, and I’ve failed to finish the task every time–the site keeps choking before I get a confirmation. And the price of the tickets in question have gone up in the interim.

No, I can’t call Virgin and talk to a real person: the reservation system they use is down, too. And the computer problems are impacting people who are already flying, too, judging from the Twitter chatter:

It’s interesting that the people who are on flights seem to be a little less irate than those who are trying to use the site: it’s possible for a human staffer to make the best of a bad situation. Web sites, however, can’t show grace under pressure. I winder what’s wrong, why things seem to be getting worse rather than better, and when things will be back to normal?



20 Comments For This Post

  1. The_Heraclitus Says:

    It must not be a very tech savvy airline if it can't keep its website operation. This is a de facto statement btw.

  2. Vance Says:

    It's not just their web site. They are hand writting boarding passes. I was one of 3 people who upgraded to the same seat. The only way they could sort it out was first come first serve. They had no idea who was entitled to that seat, in fact 3 were. They did handle it as well as possible, but I'm demanding my upgrade fee back as I ended up in my origninal seat.

  3. Peter Yared Says:

    Agreed about the planes… but the web site is very slow and does not have a mobile optimized version. Also the "Expand more" to fill out a flight search on the home page is lame.

  4. Rebecca Says:

    I am having exactly the same problem with the website. I tried to book a flight and then got stuck at the confirmation page. Then, I got an error and was told my flight is no longer available. It's now $100 more! Did you get any satisfaction regarding this problem? I would love to book at the price it was 5 mins ago, but I'm not willing to spend an extra 100 bucks on a 1 hour flight. Would love to know if you were able to get any word from Virgin on this issue.

  5. vincent Says:

    Ditto on the similar sentiments expressed here. been through several failed attempts since last sunday. finally, got to the confirmation page today, but still waiting for the email confirmation.

    Also, keep getting a "Error, Invalid Process Occured" msg. when signing in to the Elevate tab.

  6. Kathleen M Says:

    Having similar problems. Somehow my reservation got mysteriously cancelled, so i had to rebuy at a higher price. Now I can't verify my flight home. Ack.

  7. judyjetson Says:

    Hey all, it's even more frustrating working here with a the "ifly" system down. It's embarrassing, confusing, and frustrating for us, too!! We are in the beginning processes of changing to SABRE, the industry-wide software that we probably should have had from the beginning. Some of us have speculated that "Ifly" is doing this to us on purpose for changing the tech. subcontractor. I don't know too much about this stuff — I just want to help guests get from point A to B, safely and feeling good about choosing Virgin America. Also, HQ does read this stuff, so keep the good and bad comments coming, hopefully it makes a difference. Hope you don't give up on us yet — this is only year 4! Safe travels to you all!!

  8. Eric Says:

    They appear to be having these same problems again, I have tried booking on their website for 3 days now with no luck, calling their customer service number gets me left on hold for ever. This sucks

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  10. Alen Coder Says:

    I don't know about you but shopping online can get you many discounts. Such as arvixe coupon code and the best of all, when ever you are searching for stuff online, try searching for discount codes.

  11. Jonathan Says:

    That's what you get for moving from sucky half-baked new technology to sucky half-assed oooold technology. You get what you pay for.

  12. MICHAEL LUM Says:

    I could not access my flight to make a minor change, nor could I get through to any person on the phone. Terrible, terrible, terrible! I finally arrived at LAX. Their kiosk was not working. So I then had to wait in a long line, was given a free chocolate cookie, and got an agent to help me. Now, days later, I cannot choose a seat assignment. So I called Virgin America, and finally got a real person …AFTER WAITING OVER AN HOUR ON HOLD.



  14. Diana Says:

    Help! Trying to contact Virgin America for weeks to cancel an upcoming reservation to no avail.
    No web access, phone access or email. What does one do now??? Are they going out of business?

  15. Judy Says:

    I wonder how they are managing to maintain the planes without the use of computers.
    That's the most alarming problem.

  16. TBone Says:

    Lately we've repeatedly have had problems with Virgin and they are sllllllloooooow to get back to you or do anything about mistakes they make. We booked a christmas flight for our daughter …NY to LA online with Virgin. Price was $149 I think….we get a charge on our debit card for $348. Then we try and call them to straighten out this overcharge. 75 minute wait to actually speak to someone. We're now waiting for a call back. It's been 14 hours and still no call back. The last callback was at 4:30am on a sunday morning and the jerk lady replied when I answered from a deep sleep…"good afternoon….how can I help you?" I explained that it was much too early to be calling people at that time…the Virgin rep then said…."I'm sorry….that's not my problem….how can I help you?". I've written Virgin 3 times about this and they still have not gotten back to me regarding this. Richard Branson….where the heck are you?

  17. TBone Says:

    Well…we finally got a Virgin rep after another call to Virgin and this time….a 45 minute wait. We got a Virgin rep on the phone….we asked about our overcharge and getting a receipt for a different flight then we booked (wrong cities) …she said she could straighten our our flights but it'd take a week to 10 days for a refund of the overcharge. We then asked for a supervisor and that was another 15 minute wait. Love that@^$*^(&)! She appeared to be the first normal person from Virgin we've talked to so far. She straightened out both the wrong flight booked problem as well as getting a refund. But she offered no apology or explanation for my two sunday morning (4:30am and 5:45am) wake up return calls from their outsourced and uppity Virgin reps… Virgin has some explaining to do!!!!

  18. Tommy Gunn Says:

    Their “new” website is an embarrassment. They’ve forced us customers to deal with this nonsense for going on two months now. Flight credits missing, dropped Elevate points, missing mileage, litany of other broken features…just utter shyte. How does a major corporation in the year 2011 not know how to do a proper website cutover?! Multiple emails to them about this go unanswered. Nice. Professional. Loyalty-building…..not!

    And, forget about trying to get someone on the phone. Unless you have 40+ mins to hold. I’ve never been able to hold longer than that so maybe they pick up after 41 mins? Bottom line is that I’m re-evaluating my air carrier, for sure.

  19. Dis Gruntled Says:

    Yep. Completely insane. After many many attempts I was able to cancel a flight – and was told the money – over $1500 – would be refunded back to my card. I didn't think much of it. Then I checked my credit card statement. No credit. Can't reach them on the phone after hours of hold. They won't even give out an email address! I had to write to them using a web form and they state that it will be three weeks before they can get back to me. I finally reach someone who says they will do something about it – but, surprise!, nothing happened. I've been on hold for an hour to speak with a supervisor. Pretty sure there isn't one there. Crazy, man. Can't believe they are an international corporation.

  20. Julien Says:

    It all looks pretty messy I must say. Hopefully they will care about their company image a little more in the future. Because it's real bad advertising and they've probably lost a lot customers already. Really wondering what's going on.