British Airways suffered a technical issue with its IT systems at London’s Heathrow airport on Wednesday, causing significant disruption and flight cancellations.
Frustrated passengers took to social media, with several reporting being stuck on planes sat on the runway and missing flight connections. One branded it as “another #fail from @BritishAirways”.
“They’ve outdone themselves, we’ve been stuck waiting to disembark for two hours. I hear others have been waiting for three . † † No news, no ETA,” AlexJamesGriffiths wrote on Twitter.
The IT failure is the latest in a series of mishaps that threaten to derail BA’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The carrier has already suffered from delays this year from other technical failures and problems with baggage reclaim at Heathrow.
It was forced to cancel a number of short-haul flights from Heathrow in February, similarly blaming a “technical failure”.
The most damaging IT failure hobbled the airline in 2017 and inflicted lasting damage on its brand after it left thousands of passengers stranded on a busy holiday weekend.
It is particularly embarrassing for BA chief executive Sean Doyle, who took over in October 2020 and has made repairing the airline’s reputation one of his core priorities as the pandemic disruption fades.
The carrier apologised to those customers affected, saying it had experienced a “technical issue” for a “short time this afternoon” that affected its operations at Heathrow’s Terminal 5.
It said the issue had been resolved by late afternoon but added in a later update that it had been forced to cancel some of its flights on Wednesday evening. The airline said it was offering to refund affected passengers or rebook them on to alternative flights.
Heathrow airport advised passengers to check their flight status with BA before traveling to the airport “due to a number of resulting cancellations”.
Doyle told the Financial Times earlier this year the airline needed to work to restore its “premium” reputation.
He added it needed to “redefine” its place in the airline world, including a heavy emphasis on the passenger experience. “We want people to come off a British Airways flight and talk about it as if it’s something different,” he said.