Airline Scramble: Snow In The Northeast And Sabre Outage Make For A Long Day For Agents

by Daniel McCarthy
Airline Scramble: Snow In The Northeast And Sabre Outage Make For A Long Day For Agents

Photo: Rob Feldman


Heavy snowfall in the northeast is shutting down traffic airports across the region on Thursday morning, with some areas expected to get up to 16 inches. And insiders suggest that perhaps the resulting volune of calls caused yesterday’s Sabre outage.

As of Thursday morning, more than 3,000 flights have already been cancelled with more expected as the snowfall continues during the day. Most airlines are issuing change fee waivers for travel scheduled for today and tomorrow.

Alaska Airlines has issued a fee waiver for anyone flying to or from airports in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Baltimore who purchased tickets on or before Feb. 8. Travel has to be rebooked by Feb. 17.

Any passengers scheduled to travel on an American Airlines flight, who purchased their ticket by Feb. 7 and are scheduled to travel Feb. 9 and 10, can rebook their flight in the same cabin or pay the difference without fee.

JetBlue is waiving change fees and fare differences for all passengers travelling from Feb. 8 to 10 to or from most northeast cities including Baltimore, Boston, New York, Newark, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. A full list of cities and the travel agent waiver code can be found on JetBlue’s website.

Southwest is allowing passengers holding tickets for travel in cities affected by the storm on February 9 and 10, to rebook in the original class of service or travel standby within 14 days of their original date to the original destination without paying any additional fees. Southwest is allowing passengers who were scheduled to travel out of Minneapolis on Feb. 8 to do the same. A full list of the cities can be found on the Southwest website.

United Airlines is also waiving change fees for travel between now and Feb. 12 as long as travel is rescheduled in the same cabin and between the same cities as originally ticketed. For a list of all cities included in the waiver, go to the United website.

Virgin America is letting passengers with tickets for flights through Feb. 10 to and from Boston Logan, JFK International Airport, Newark International Airport and LaGuardia Airport to chance their flight without paying fees or differences in fares. Flights can be rebooked for travel through February 17 or cancelled without fees. No waiver code is required for travel agents.

Sabre outage
According to travel agents trying to rebook flights on Wednesday prior to the snow, Sabre’s system was down for about 90 minutes at around 8 p.m. EST. The outage affected reservations on airlines including American, Southwest and Alaska Airlines.

According to the company, the system came back online at around 10 p.m. EST.

“Airline and travel agency customers reporting normal ops. Our apologies for the disruption. All efforts devoted to rapid resolution,” Sabre said in a statement.

Sabre has said that it is working on determining the “root cause of the disruption” and that the system is fully operational as of Thursday morning.

The company did not respond to TMR for comment by press time.

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