More than 100 short-haul flights to and from Heathrow have been canceled or diverted due to problems with the airline’s IT systems. Passengers have reportedly been told that BA is rebooking their flights for a day or two day’s time. Tens of thousands of passengers have had their flights canceled this week in the latest round of disruption involving British Airways’ IT systems.
The airline has already been forced to cancel or delay more than 900 flights this week after its IT system was disrupted for the third time this year.
It scrapped over 100 flights on Wednesday and delayed 214 other services when its check-in systems crashed.
The IT meltdown was fixed on Wednesday evening but the knock-on effect meant disruption continued over the following days.
More than 130 flights were scrapped on Thursday, accounting for around a fifth of the airline’s scheduled services, while thousands of long-haul passengers were forced to wait overnight as their flights were delayed
The airline’s IT systems at Heathrow Terminal 5 were down for around an hour on Tuesday afternoon, with all flights prevented from taking off and passengers unable to board their plane.
Travelers caught up in this week’s chaos have branded the situation “appalling” and an “absolute disgrace”.
Passengers described being stuck on the tarmac for up to three hours waiting for their plane to take off.
One customer, Tracey Whalen, wrote on Twitter: “Absolute disgrace. Been stuck in this airport for nine hours with a sick kid, flights keep getting canceled with no warning… no British Airways customer services staff to be found.”
Another, Alastair Burton, posted: “Thanks British Airways for messing up my whole day. Morning flight was canceled so full day of meetings lost. Afternoon flight currently delayed… awesome.”
In a recorded message to staff this week, British Airways boss Sean Doyle said there had been at least two other IT crashes this year alone. He likened the issues facing the airline to getting to the “top of Everest”.
He said customers were “rightly fed up” with the situation but there was “no quick fix” for the disruption.
Mr Doyle added that more flights would have to be canceled in the coming weeks to keep services running.
The disruption means families trying to get away during the Easter break could have their plans thrown into chaos.
Anna Bowles from the UK Civil Aviation Authority said the regulator was keeping an eye on the situation and would “not hesitate” to take action if necessary.
British Airways is required by law to get people to their destination as soon as possible and provide hotels and meals where appropriate.
Customers are entitled to travel on the original day of depature if there is any commercial way of getting them to their destination.
The airline is also required to pay compensation to any passenger who arrives three hours or more behind schedule.
British Airways said that they had been forced to reduce their schedule between now and May following the disruption.
The airline said in a statement: “Aviation has been one of the industries worst hit by the pandemic and airlines and airports are experiencing the same issues rebuilding their operations while managing the continuing impact of Covid. We are also building a completely new subsidiary at Gatwick while increasing the size of our schedule at Heathrow.
“So while the vast majority of our flights continue to operate as planned, as a precaution we’ve slightly reduced our schedule between now and the end of May as we ramp back up.
“We’ve apologised to customers who are affected by this and to limit the inconvenience have re-booked them onto earlier or later flights on the same day they were originally due to travel where possible. We’re also offering them the opportunity to book onto an alternative flight or request a full refund.”