Technical Difficulties

Virgin Group Unveils Tech Support Service, Which Is Funny Because Virgin America’s Website Still Doesn’t Work

virgin america in space Virgin Group Unveils Tech Support Service, Which Is Funny Because Virgin Americas Website Still Doesnt Work

A Space Age airline with a Dark Ages reservation system.

Update at the bottom with a statement from Virgin America.

We reported on Virgin America’s technical difficulties back in November, after a switch to a new reservation system left some users out on the tarmac. Customers encountered weird glitches when they tried to view their accounts or book a flight, and the customer service line was overwhelmed with inquiries. At the time, the problems had been ongoing for a month. And we thought that was bad. Virgin America customers are still running into glitches three months later.

PandoDaily’s Paul Carr wrote about it. Random other people with blogs wrote about it. Even though Virgin Atlantic America (see disambiguation) told Mr. Carr the service would be fixed by mid-February (first week in December was what they told us), customers are still complaining of errors.

“The cool music in your airline restrooms and purple lighting are no compensation for poor management,” writes S. Neil Vineberg, a San Francisco marketer who claimed in February that he has not been receiving confirmations by email and is told wait times are 58 minutes to 1 hour and 14 minutes when he calls customer service.

Ironically, yesterday saw the announcement of Virgin Digital Help, a new personal tech support service in the U.S. under the Virgin umbrella brand for “web and email issues, computers, smartphones, viruses– anything digital.” Prices range from $30 per fix to $15 per month.

“We love our digital lifestyles, but sometimes the stress of dealing with technology that is confusing or failure-prone is just too much,” says a press release. “That’s why Virgin… announced a new service, Virgin Digital Help, to support the growing number of US consumers who feel overwhelmed by the ‘digital stress’ associated with their increasingly complex digital lifestyles.”

Perhaps Virgin Digital Help can help the next time you try to book a flight and getting booted out halfway through the process. Tell them you’re experiencing some acute digital stress.

UPDATE, 6:00 p.m.: Virgin America sent this statement:

We are a U.S. owned and operated airline and Virgin Group is a minority investor — so we have no direct affiliation with the newly launched digital help company (or with Virgin Atlantic).

Although the majority of issues are now resolved and our website is operating at normal capacity, as you note, a sub-set of users continued to experience web issues related to our reservations switch into February, mainly related to issues with Elevate account logins. We currently have an average 5 minute hold time on our main reservations number. As you may recall, during the reservations switch in the fall we waived all change fees and offered 5000 Elevate points (the equivalent of a free flight) by way of further apology to those guests most affected. In addition, we continued to reach out on an individual basis to guests with refunds, credit files and point credits depending on the issues experienced.

She notes further that “reservations systems switches are a one-time occurrence for most airlines, involving the knife-edge migration of millions of records during live operations. For past examples, see: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/cutover-nightmare-the-challenge-of-it-transitions-343571/ Most recently, United initiated a similar switch this month, see: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/05/uk-united-idUSLNE82401120120305.”

Follow Adrianne Jeffries on Twitter or via RSS. ajeffries@observer.com