British Airways has cancelled more than 80 flights to and from the UK’s busiest airport following another IT failure.
On Sunday afternoon Heathrow’s system handling check-in and flight information failed in all four terminals.
The failure hit all four passenger terminals, both landside (before the security check) and airside.
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Unlike some previous episodes, the cause was the airport’s systems, not BA’s. But the airline’s passengers bore the brunt of the disruption.
More than 100 flights were cancelled, almost all of them on British Airways. Some of those had been pre-planned because of the disruption caused by Storm Dennis, but most were made on the day.
With departure screens out of action, airport staff wrote gate information on whiteboards.
Passengers talked of chaos in the terminals. Tim Barton, who was flying on BA from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Dusseldorf, said: “It’s just an absolute mess.
“Had to keep asking people what’s going on. I’m afraid the ground staff didn’t have a clue what to do. Zero out of 10 for customer service.”
To clear the backlog of flights, departures continued long after the usual curfew – with one flight to Abuja in Nigeria taking off well after midnight, 100 minutes behind schedule.
Some flights left without baggage, and others with baggage but without all the passengers.
After the problem was solved, the airport told travellers: “Heathrow’s systems are returning to normal. We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused our passengers.
“Our teams will continue to monitor our systems and be on hand across our terminals to provide assistance to passengers as we work to resume our regular operations.”
All the grounded flights are short-haul, with Milan, Geneva, and Barcelona affected by multiple cancellations.
British Airways is telling passengers: “We would anyone due to travel from London Heathrow check the status of your flight for the latest on your flight before you leave from the airport.
“If your flight is still due to go ahead but you would prefer not to fly from London Heathrow then you can opt for a full refund of your flight, or rebook your journey for another day up to and including 20 February.”
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