Virgin Australia checks in with Sabre booking system

Airline replaces Navitaire check-in system which crashed in 2012.

Virgin Australia has implemented a new booking and check-in system called Sabre across its domestic and international networks.

It replaces the Navitaire check-in offering which crashed in November 2012, causing long delays for Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Tiger passengers at Australian airports. In 2011, Virgin Australia settled out of court with Navitaire after the IT company was deemed responsible for a failure in the airline's system during 2010.

The system crash left thousands of Virgin customers stranded and queuing for lengthy periods of time as staff were forced to switch to a manual system.

A Virgin Australia spokeswoman told Computerworld Australia that the airline previously operated on two separate booking and check-in systems – Navitaire for domestic and short-haul international flights and Amadeus for long-haul international flights.

Virgin Australia's domestic partner airline, Skywest, also uses the Sabre system. In addition, international airlines including Virgin America, LAN and JetBlue operate the booking system while alliance partner Etihad Airways is about to move to Sabre in the next few months.

The spokeswoman added that there would be “longer than usual” wait times in some Australian airports as the Sabre system is embedded into its day-to-day operations.

“With our Web and mobile check-in options now available, we encourage all customers to check-in online prior to coming to the airport where possible,” she said in a statement.

Virgin Australia customers travelling between 14 January and 20 January 2013 have also been advised to bring a printed copy of their itinerary to the airport and arrive for check-in at least 60 minutes prior to departure for domestic flights and at least three hours for international flights.

“We have stationed 30 per cent more staff in terminals and contact centres over the next week to support customers,” said the spokeswoman.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

Tags airportsSabrenavitairecheck-inVirgin Australia




Unfortunately it seems the switch over wasn't too smooth today.

Took a friend to the airport for his 2pm flight from Brisbane to Canberra and at 3pm they still hadn't left, being told that booking system problems meant 4 people were still to board.



I've been trying to book flights all day and the system lets me input most of the information and then crashes somewhere in the process every time before I can finalise - its a disaster!



it's okay. these things happen. first world problems.

Rose(mary Stevens


Very disappointed that Virgin did not expect 'teething problems' for the installation of new IT system and have a credible back up method on standby. Arrived over an hour early as asked via text message on Fri 11 Jan for our flight from Brisbane to Melbourne (then to Hobart) (Sun 13 Jan DJ334, 2.55pm). All OK, no delays at Brisbane, baggage booked through to final destination (Hobart) but we could only be given our boarding passes to Melb. So when we arrived at Melb we needed to exit and line up to get boarding passes for DJ1334 to Hobart. Virgin staff told us to go to the kiosk and get our passes but the kiosk could not locate us as passengers. Then virgin staff directed us to the queue at the service desk. After some time we were told to move to another queue...where we waited in line for well over and hour before finally being 'found' on the system and handed our passes. Initially we were to have some time before our flight was to leave. Time in which we had planned to meet up with a friend, have a drink, get some tea etc. But now, we found ourselves queuing again to go through the screening process and running to get to the allocated gate(3) on time. We were only a little late boarding but then once on board passengers were counted several times, some passenger groups were moved to other seats, luggage in overhead lockers was moved etc etc. We sat and waited and waited and waited. The crew were polite and on-board messages were given apologising and 'thanking us for our patience'. The plane did not leave until 9.30pm and we had no way of alerting our family who were collecting us at the Hobart airport. One and a quarter hours late!
I appreciate the up-grading of IT systems, the Virgin staff were working very hard, the new system/back-up system was obviously inadequate and could not cope with the problems presented on Sunday evening. No apologies were given at the airport. We were very disappointed and this experience spoilt what had been a very short but enjoyable holiday. Rose Stevens & Maria Direen.

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