Thursday 23 November 2017

Flight chaos as British Airways experiences 'global systems outage'

Handout photo taken with permission from the Twitter feed of @theboyg of queues at British Airways check in desks at Heathrow Airport: @theboyg/PA Wire
Handout photo taken with permission from the Twitter feed of @theboyg of queues at British Airways check in desks at Heathrow Airport: @theboyg/PA Wire

Rachael Burnett, Press Association

British Airways passengers around the world are facing delays due to computer problems.

"We're experiencing a global system outage," the airline said in reply to one disgruntled traveller on Twitter.

BA has apologised to customers as scores of Britons headed overseas for the long weekend and half-term school holidays on Saturday morning. It's a bank holiday in Britain on Monday.

The airline has cancelled all flights from Gatwick and Heathrow as computer problems cause disruption worldwide.

Passengers have been told not to travel to the London airports because of "extreme congestion" at the terminals, with all BA planes grounded before 6pm on Saturday.

A spokeswoman for the airline said: "We have experienced a major IT system failure that is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide."

BA added: "We've found no evidence that it's a cyber attack."

"The terminals at Heathrow and Gatwick have become extremely congested and we have cancelled all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick before 6pm UK time today, so please do not come to the airports," the airline continued.

"We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience this is causing our customers and we are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible."

Travellers have been told to check the airline website and twitter account for updates about the situation.

The airline has experienced issues with its online check-in systems in the past.

Passengers were hit by severe delays in September and July last year because of IT glitches.

The latest problem meant parts of BA's website were unavailable and some travellers were unable check in on the mobile app, with many venting their frustration on social media.

Melissa Davis, who runs a legal PR agency in London, was held for more than an hour and a half on the tarmac at Heathrow, on a BA flight returning from Belfast.

Speaking from the plane, Miss Davis said the air conditioning had been off "so I don't think we will be going anywhere any time soon", but added that the passengers had been kept informed by their pilot and given water while they remained seated.

She later said she and others were then told they could not transfer to other flights because "they can't bring up our details".

Henry Tail, a 27-year-old teacher from London, claimed he had missed his flight to Rome because of the technical problems.

"I checked in online using the BA app at 8.15 for my flight at 9.25, then went and had breakfast," he told the Press Association.

"At some point, the app restarted and when I went to go through security, I couldn't log in to my booking to get my QR code.

"This meant I couldn't go through security, and by the time I'd gone back and forth to various customer service desks, the flight had closed," he said.

Gareth Wharton, also at Heathrow Terminal 5, tweeted a picture of BA staff writing gate information on a whiteboard amid the systems outage.

"Gets worse, #T5 staff having to put gate info up on a white board #LowFi #Heathrow," he tweeted.

Passengers at Gatwick Airport faced chaotic scenes and long queues due to a baggage system problem on Friday.

Those taking flights were forced to travel without their hold bags and were asked to carry any essential items in their hand luggage.

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