Alaska Airlines' computers back up after long outage

SEATTLE (AP) - A computer problem caused significant delays Monday morning for all Alaska Airlines flights, according to company officials.

The computers came back online at noon.

The problem was caused by a combination of two fiber optic cuts in the Sprint system, which Alaska uses. The cuts prevented the airline from using their computer system to check in customers.

Sprint spokeswoman Crystal Davis in Reston, Va., says one occurred at a construction site along railroad tracks between Chicago and Milwaukie, and the other was somewhere between Portland and Seattle.

If there had been only one disruption, the computer system would've been able to reroute the traffic. She says the failure Monday was caused by the combination of the two cuts. It also affected some other Sprint customers in parts of Washington, Oregon and California.

The airline apologized and asked passengers for patience as lines formed Monday morning at Portland International Airport and at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Alaska is the largest carrier in Seattle.

Alaska employees handed out snacks to try and ease passengers' pain.

"We're doing everything we can to get back on track," Alaska Airlines President and CEO Brad Tilden said at Sea-Tac Airport during an unrelated announcement with Delta Air Lines about a new route.

The technical problem left the airline unable to check in passengers starting at about 7:40 a.m., Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said. The airline planned to start manually checking in passengers, according to an announcement at the Sea-Tac terminal about 9 a.m.

The delays affected flights throughout the carrier's system, Egan said.

"I'm a little irritated because they're not saying anything," Debbie Wadsworth of California said as she waited at PDX. "They tell people to go home, I'm not from here, I don't have a home to go to."

Lowell Sochie of Canby said he was told the problem was a broken cable located out near the Oregon Coast and the computers would be down for four to five hours. He was trying to get on a flight to Palm Springs to visit his ailing brother.

"It's not good. But what are you gonna do?" he said of the delay.

The Seattle-based Alaska Airlines is the seventh-largest U.S. airline based on passenger traffic and is the dominant U.S. West Coast air carrier. It has an average of 436 flights a day at 64 destinations.

An Alaska spokesperson said things might not be back to normal untl Tuesday.

Alaska and its sister carrier, Horizon Air, are owned by Alaska Air Group.

Our data connection partner, Sprint, is experiencing a network outage which is affecting our ability to check-in customers.

Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) October 8, 2012