A severed fiber optic cable led to a morning full of headaches for Alaska Air Group customers as Alaska Air and Horizon Air personnel scrambled to get passengers and cargo to their destination without the use of Internet.
Updated 4:18 p.m.Alaska Airlines operations slowly returned to normal this afternoon after a fiber-optic outage shut down its ticketing system for five hours, cancelling flights in Seattle and Los Angeles and causing delays across the airline's 64-airport network, including in Medford.
The airline said the data connection was restored before 1 p.m.
The problem was caused by a combination of two cut cables in Sprint's fiber-optic network. One occurred at a construction site along railroad tracks between Chicago and Milwaukee and the other was somewhere between Portland and Seattle, said Sprint spokeswoman Crystal Davis in Reston, Va.
“Typically if there's just one cut, traffic reroutes automatically,” Davis said. “Because there were two cuts within hours of each other, it caused this disruption.”
Updated 1:51 p.m. A severed fiber optic cable led to a morning full of headaches for Alaska Air Group customers as Alaska Air and Horizon Air personnel scrambled to get passengers and cargo to their destination without the use of Internet.
Horizon Air flights in and out of Medford were knocked off schedule after Alaska Air Group's Internet provider Sprint suffered a fiber network cut at 7:40 a.m.
Marine Lance Corp. Kenny Chesney of Medford thought he might spend another night at home before the system was restored, clearing the way for his 12:15 p.m. flight to Seattle.
“The previous flights were cancelled and they told us there was a good chance mine would be cancelled and I would have to fly out (Tuesday),” Chesney said in a telephone interview.
In the interim, Chesney said Horizon Air personnel did what they could.
“They brought us pizza and fast-food,” said Chesney, who was connecting from Seattle to Los Angeles International en route to Camp Pendleton. “They handled it professionally.”
11:50 a.m. Alaska Airlines posted a Facebook message apologizing to its customers.
"We are working as quickly as we can to have network access restored for our computer systems," the company said in a statement. "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 system-wide."
The company implemented a manual process to check-in customers, but said the process was slow and flights would depart late.
The Associated Press reported that the system to check in passengers stopped working at 7:40 a.m. today, causing long lines of frustrated passengers who were unable to board flights that were delayed at Sea-Tac Airport.
Medford Airport Director Bern Case said early-morning flights here apparently came and went without difficulty, but passengers arriving for later flights encountered the delays.
"It's only affected a few flights here so far," Case said.
On its website, Alaska said if passengers missed flights they'd try to get them on the next available one and would also try to book people on other airlines if necessary.
Technicians are working to fix the problem, but the company could not say how long it would last. Alaska Airlines President and CEO Brad Tilden said there might be a partial solution by noon Pacific time and a full resolution by 5 p.m.
— Staff and wire reports