Sometimes when things go wrong, it is an opportunity to show what you are made of. On Saturday, Alaska Airlines computer system, used to plan flights, went offline due to a blown transformer. It took over 24 hours to get the system fully running again and there are still passengers who are trying to get to their destination.
From the media’s perspective, Alaska was on their game. During the outtage they posted four different press releases, allowing the media to update passengers. When this sort of thing happens with most other airlines, the media is lucky to get one press release after everything is said and done.
For passengers, both Alaska and Horizon effectively used their social media outlets to not only keep customers informed, but to apologize for the inconvenience. Alaska alone had about 25 tweets about the outage, either providing updates or talking directly to customers who needed assistance. Alaska Air President Brad Tilden and Horizon Air President Glenn Johnson also made a video apologizing for the delay, something that I have never seen an airline do, especially in the middle of the situation.
Now realize, this is all going on over the weekend. All these airline folks were working diligently to get the system back up and keep their customers informed. For me, that is true dedication.
Most airlines are too afraid to have such a public voice when something goes wrong. It takes a risk to be so public when things go wrong, but I think it seperates the good airlines from the great. Even though the computer crash only affected 18% of their flights, it is still a huge impact. Alaska did have to cancel 150 flights, affecting 12,000 passengers. Sure, for many passengers this outreach didn’t mean much help them feel better about not seeing grandma, but just like every other industry out there, airlines are prone to things going wrong. The airline business is extremely complicated and this just goes to show how something relatively minor can have such a large impact.
Cheers to Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air for being so open with the issues and getting them solved.