British Airways IT glitch causes chaos for holidaymakers

Heathrow Terminal 5, where many British Airways flights have been cancelled. Photograph: Carl McQueen / Sky News

British Airways passengers travelling from London for their holidays have been hit by cancellations and delays after a systems failure.

London’s Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports were affected by the glitch on Wednesday morning. The problem was not a global problem, British Airways said.

However, passengers were warned that the disruption would likely have knock-on effects at airports across the UK and Europe. British Airways flights were cancelled or delayed at airports in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast.

Customers have experienced difficulties checking in online, while queues have formed in airport departure areas as staff struggled to check in passengers.

The airline said it has moved to back-up manual systems to keep some flights operating. As well as check-in, some systems allowing aircraft to depart were affected.

Air travel experts said the airline may be liable to pay compensation to affected passengers, on top of refunding them the ticket price. Under EU law, some passengers whose flights are cancelled or delayed by two hours or more can be given compensation.

British Airways said it was offering customers the chance to move bookings to another travel day between 8-13 August.

About half of the British Airways flights scheduled to depart from Heathrow’s terminal 5 between 9.30am and midday were cancelled or delayed, according to the airport’s website.

In a statement, the airline said: “We are working as quickly as possible to resolve a systems issue which has resulted in some short-haul cancellations and delays from London airports.

“A number of flights continue to operate but we are advising customers to check for the latest flight information before coming to the airport.”

British Airways flights had already been among the 177 flights cancelled and then reinstated on Monday and Tuesday in preparation for industrial action by staff at Heathrow over low pay. The strikes, originally due to be begin at midnight on Monday morning, were suspended to allow further talksbetween union and airport officials.

British Airways faces separate strike action from pilots. In a ballot of the pilots’ union Balpa, 93% of the airline’s 4,000 pilots voted in favour of taking industrial action after rejecting a three-year pay deal.

British Airways has in the past suffered severe computer system failures that have left passengers stranded around the world. In 2017 during the May bank holiday weekend some 75,000 passengers were stranded at Gatwick and Heathrow.

The latest delays come after almost 200 passengers were evacuated from a British Airways flight to Valencia on Monday because of smoke filling the cabin. (The Guardian)

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