British Airways flights delayed at Heathrow after ‘IT system failure’

Widespread issues reported at Terminal 5

Helen Coffey,Simon Calder
Wednesday 30 March 2022 17:42 BST
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Heathrow opens terminal for travellers from 'high-risk countries'

British Airways suffered another IT systems outage at Heathrow airport this afternoon, causing significant flight delays.

An airline spokesperson told The Independent: “We experienced a technical issue for a short time this afternoon which affected our operation at Heathrow Terminal 5. This has now been resolved and we’re resuming flight operations. We’ve apologised to those customers who have been inconvenienced.”

Despite speculation, BA denied that its systems were down globally.

On ba.com, more than 50 short-haul departures are shown as “cancelled” in the eight hours between 2pm and 10pm.

An equal number of inbound flights will be grounded.

That represents more than 10,000 travellers who are likely to wake up on Thursday morning not where they wanted to be.

The worst-affected destinations are Amsterdam and Milan, with four cancellations in each direction; Paris and Berlin are showing three departures grounded each way.

Passenger whose flights are cancelled can expect £220 or £350 in compensation, depending on the length of the journey; new flights on another airline, if an immediate British Airways option is not available; and hotel and meals provided while they wait.

Numerous passengers at Heathrow shared their frustrations on social media,

“Sitting at BA T5 gate currently where all computers are down again this month,” commented twitter user Jessica. “Do not trust Heathrow or BA to take care of your bags overnight if you’d like to see your things again.”

Brendan Dorian tweeted: “All Access to airside at Terminal 5 Heathrow Airport currently prohibited, telephone landlines also down... no one going anywhere.”

Heathrow’s Terminal 5 was affected by the issue, with claims circulating that Iberia and Qatar Airways flights were also impacted by the shutdown.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “A technical issue which affected British Airways this afternoon has now been resolved. We are working with our airport partners to assist passengers whose journeys have been disrupted and have deployed additional resource in our terminals.

“Passengers are still advised to check their flight status with British Airways before travelling to the airport due to a number of resulting cancellations. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Other Twitter users claimed that no one at T5 was being allowed through security or to check in their bags.

“Been waiting to board since 11.45 - airport wide boarding systems failure - almost no announcements,” wrote another passenger.

Travellers on the ground at Heathrow complained of “chaos” and a lack of communication at the airport.

Twitter user Wendy tweeted: “You need to keep your passengers informed!”, adding: “nothing but chaos and disappointment.”

“Been stuck at Heathrow for 2.5 hours unable to check in with @British_Airways due to them experiencing a ‘global IT system failure’… no one seems to have answers or know what’s going on,” tweeted Will Karkar.

Meanwhile, Lindsay Cass, a British Airways passenger stuck in Madeira, told The Independent: “We were told that the global IT systems have crashed but are now slowly coming back online.

“They will be prioritising aircraft being released to depart foreign airports depending on hours left for crews and aircraft schedules tomorrow.

“They hope to get all travellers home today. We’re currently having our meal service on the ground at Funchal.

“The latest is that BA Heathrow control still aren’t releasing aircraft in Europe to take off. The captain is concerned that crew hours will dictate us staying here overnight.”

It’s the third time in two months that BA has seen widespread flight delays and cancellations as a result of an IT failure.

The British flag carrier suffered a major outage on 25 February, causing pile-ups of luggage and leaving passengers stuck on planes after landing at Heathrow.

The airline’s website and app were inaccessible for hours on Friday evening, preventing customers from checking in online or booking flights.

BA said it was experiencing “significant technical issues” at the time and that it had back-up plans in place allowing passengers to check in at the airport.

The airline had experienced a similar outage just 10 days prior.

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