The Virgin America rep sounded contrite. The airline switched reservation systems on October 28, Abby Lunardini told Betabeat, which essentially meant changing the entire site’s backend, and some though not all patrons have had errors because of it: trouble changing seats, canceling flights and accessing flight history, mostly. The change and subsequent trouble have backed up the airline’s call centers severely. “We’ve been working through the issues and made some fixes this past week and over the weekend,” she said. “We’re really very apologetic because it’s definitely not our typical service. We’re hoping we’re going to have the last web errors resolved by first week in December.”
In the meantime, customers must contact Virgin by calling the customer service line, where wait times average 27 minutes, or through Twitter. Virgin added 30 percent call center staff before the change, and an additional 45 percent since then, the rep said. Wait times are usually 30 seconds, she said.
Virgin also increased its airport staff 10 to 20 percent prior to the change, she said.
“As an airline that prides itself on our guest service, we never like to see guests inconvenienced for any reason and we are trying to do right by them as we resolve these issues,” Virgin said in a statement.” Virgin will waive all change/cancel fees for customers having issues. Virgin’s VIP “Elevate” members flying during this period, about 56,000 so far, have received an apology from Virgin’s CEO and a free flight credited to their accounts. “We hope to have the chance to welcome our loyal flyers back in the weeks ahead and better show them the award-winning service we are typically known for.”
Way to make flying suck less, Virgin. But seriously—the hipster airline is going through the same transition pains Jet Blue and WestJet saw in June of 2010. Most irked customers had to append their complaints with a disclaimer along the lines of “usually Virgin is the best but this is insanely frustrating.” However, the airline has lost at least a few customers. “Dismayed by the recent uptick in complaints towards@VirginAmerica,” tweeted Outbrain’s Josh Guttman. “They were my lone salvation in air travel and now all hope seems lost.”