Fiber breaks disrupt Alaska, Horizon flights

Severed fiber connections led to a morning full of headaches for Alaska Air Group customers as Alaska Air and Horizon Air scrambled to get passengers and cargo to their destinations without the 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. Sprint lines were cut between Portland and Seattle and between Chicago and Milwaukee. By noon, the two airlines had canceled 70 flights, affecting more than 6,000 passengers. More than 130 flights had departed, some up to four hours late.

Marine Lance Cpl. 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 canceled and they told us there was a good chance mine would be canceled and I would have to fly out (today)," 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."

According to an Associated Press story, 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.''

By early afternoon, the Sprint data connection had been restored, but operational disruption continued the rest of the day as flight crews and passengers tried to make up for lost time.

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