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British Airways travelers hoping for a relaxing spring getaway were plunged into chaos today as thousands were left in the lurch after a ‘technical issue’ caused flights to be delayed.
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Customers were reportedly met with empty check-in desks, huge queues and were unable to access any boarding information at Heathrow Airport on Wednesday.
Passengers who landed at the London terminal were also met with headaches as they claimed they were made to wait up to two hours to disembark.
Natalie Stimson, who has waited for almost two hours at Heathrow after landing from Prague, said staff appeared ‘clueless’ as to the IT problem.
Another passenger on a flight from Northern Ireland to London told MailOnline: ‘We are stuck on the tarmac at Belfast City airport on the plane.
‘The pilot told us all BA flights suspended due to massive IT issue. None allowed to take off. And sounds like they can’t land at Heathrow.
‘We have no idea what is happening. One passenger next to me said there is more information coming out of Putin’s bunker than BA.
‘No one, including pilots, has a clue what’s going on. It’s utter chaos. Fellow passengers are convinced it’s a major cyber attack.’
Flight disruption was also reported by customers waiting to depart on BA services from Copenhagen, Paris and Nice.
One eyewitness alleged that staff onboard one BA flight were seen using their personal mobile phones in an attempt to reach the office.
Customers were reportedly met with empty check-in desks, huge queues and were unable to access any boarding information at Heathrow Airport on Wednesday
Another customer said they had been left waiting for more than two and a half hours and were unable to check in.
Big Jet TV, which soared to mainstream fame after livestreaming during Storm Eunice last month, tweeted: ‘We’re live at Heathrow and hearing British Airways IT systems are down.’
Pensioner Doros Partasides, 76, said BA’s passengers were left stranded on the tarmac at Larnaca Airport Cyprus for two hours. ‘The captain told us the IT glitch in London Heathrow T5 means no planes are allowed in or out’.
Gavin Megaw, crisis consultant and host of White Swan podcast, who is presently stuck on a plane on the tarmac in Belfast said: ‘It appears to be a significant IT failure and many are already speculating about the possibility of a cyber attack.
‘It has seemingly caught BA off guard, highlighting a likely gap in the crisis communications plans BA has in place for such problems.
‘The pilot and crew are doing everything possible to look after customers, but it’s clear they are not receiving the information they need from their HQ to make and communicate decisions.’
Customers were reportedly met with empty check-in desks, unable to access boarding information and huge queues at Heathrow Airport on Wednesday. Flight disruption was also reported by customers waiting to depart on BA services from Copenhagen and Nice
British Airways travelers hoping for a relaxing spring getaway were plunged into chaos today as thousands were left in the lurch after a ‘technical issue’ caused flights to be delayed. [File image]
A BA spokesman said: ‘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.’
Reacting to the delays, Michael Foote, personal finance expert and editor of Quotegoat.com, said: ‘If your flight is cancelled, you should be asked whether you want a full refund or to re-book on an alternative flight.
‘BA should cover the cost of transport if you need to travel from a different airport to catch your replacement flight.’
Several BA flights initially scheduled for Heathrow have now been diverted to London Gatwick almost 40 miles away
Wednesday’s technical glitch marked the latest in a string of high-profile gaffes that have already plagued the airline this year.
Last weekend, almost 200 BA flights were disrupted, with passengers left queuing for more than an hour to check in their bags and others forced to return home without their luggage.
And in February, passengers were also hit by chaos from BA as more than 500 flights were cancelled or delayed after the airline suffered its biggest IT meltdown for years.
In an internal message to staff, chief executive Sean Doyle admitted passengers and employees are ‘fed up’ with the recent issues, which included IT issues and staff shortages.
BA said flights would have to be cancelled over the next few weeks, through the Easter holidays and until the end of May.
The issues have come at the worst time for BA, with bookings at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic after the UK and most European countries ditched Covid traveller tests for fully vaccinated holidaymakers.
Over the weekend, passengers at Heathrow said there were ‘not enough staff to explain what was going on’ and a lot of the desks looked ‘unmanned’ at the baggage check-in at Terminal 5.