Sabre Systems IT outage hits global airline operations

Zach Marzouk

24 May, 2021

Sabre Systems experienced an outage on Friday 21 May that impacted a number of airlines around the world and interrupted their scheduled flights.

Sabre is a third-party IT system used for check-in, boarding and flight bookings. The outage affected global airlines including Virgin AustraliaJet BlueAlaskan Airlines and American Airlines.

A spokesperson for Virgin Australia confirmed the company had experienced an outage with the Sabre booking system which had resulted in over 30 flights cancelled on Friday and a “small number of flights” cancelled or delayed on Saturday.

Tweets from the airline suggested that the outage affecting Virgin Australia lasted for around three hours.

JetBlue spokesperson told IT Pro: “JetBlue systems are back online following a Sabre outage impacting multiple airlines. We apologise for any inconvenience this caused.” 

Moreover, when IT Pro asked the company for comment, Sabre blamed the outage on Dell EMC.

“Dell/EMC has confirmed it experienced a hardware redundancy failure that impacted Sabre’s system, including PSS and check-in. The issue has been resolved. Dell/EMC is working to understand why the failure occurred,” said the spokesperson.

IT Pro has contacted Dell for comment.

Meanwhile, Air India stated that a cyber attack which took place three months ago on the systems of its data processor has exposed information belonging to around 4.5 million of its customers worldwide.

The breach which affected SITA, the data processor, involved personal data registered over a ten year period which exposed information such as passport information, date of birth and credit card data. The airline is now encouraging passengers to change passwords to ensure the safety of their personal data.