British Airways resumes flights after IT crash, but thousands still stranded

Hundreds of Irish passengers affected as flights from Dublin to Heathrow cancelled

Flight cancellations by British Airways following a global IT outage on Saturday, May 28th causes large queues and congestion at London's two biggest airports. Video: Reuters

 

British Airways resumed some flights from Britain's two biggest airports on Sunday after a global computer system failure created chaos, but hundreds of passengers were still waiting for hours at London Heathrow.

BA said it aimed to operate the majority of services from Heathrow and a near normal schedule from Gatwick, the capital's second busiest airport. Heathrow, however, said it expected further delays and cancellations of BA flights.

At Heathrow's Terminal 5, where BA is the dominant carrier, hundreds of passengers were waiting in line on Sunday and flight arrival boards showed cancelled flights.

Irish passengers travelling to Heathrow Airport in London were also affected by the British Airways cancellations. Three flights from Dublin Airport to Heathrow at 11.05am, 12.50pm and 14.05pm on Saturday were cancelled with later flights all running as normal.

Some passengers were curled up under blankets on the floor or sleeping slumped on luggage trolleys. Several passengers complained about a lack of information from BA representatives at the airport. Others said their luggage had been lost.

Travellers wait stranded at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 after British Airways flights where cancelled at Heathrow Airport. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images
Travellers wait stranded at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 after British Airways flights where cancelled at Heathrow Airport. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

"We are continuing to work hard to restore all of our IT systems," BA added in a statement. "We are extremely sorry for the huge disruption caused to customers."

When asked about the disruption at Heathrow, a BA spokeswoman said: "We appreciate that this is a very trying and distressing experience for customers and we are doing everything we possibly can to get them away on their flights as soon as we can."

Gatwick and Heathrow told passengers not to travel to the airports unless they were rebooked on other flights.

The airline said it was “extremely sorry” for the “huge disruption” it cause and that its engineers were continuing to work hard to restore its services.

Travellers wait stranded at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 after British Airways flights where cancelled at Heathrow Airport. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images
Travellers wait stranded at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 after British Airways flights where cancelled at Heathrow Airport. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

A man who was caught up in the delays at Heathrow airport after British Airways’ systems outage said the airline had lost his and dozens of other passengers’ bags by the time his flight landed.

Terry Page, 28, from London, flew from Terminal 5 to Fort Worth, Texas. On arrival he and “about 50” others were eventually told that BA did not know where the bags were, and were told they were hoping they would receive them on Monday.

“They said nothing,” he claimed. “I saw everyone else filling out forms and I asked what it was about.

“It’s affected so many people. Some 80-year-old lady was standing around waiting for announcements, et cetera - and she fell over,” he said. “We helped her up and she said ‘I’m just so tired’.

“It’s been a terrible, terrible day’” Mr Page added.

Photograph: @theboyg/PA Wire
Photograph: @theboyg/PA Wire

British Airways could face huge compensation costs for the thousands of passengers stranded by the crash. Delayed travellers are able to claim compensation under EU law, unless the disruption has been caused by factors outside the airline’s control.

Air travel experts say BA is likely to face a massive cost in lost revenue and payouts to customers whose flights were cancelled.

Malcolm Ginsberg, editor in chief at Business Travel News, said: “There is no question - the EU denied-boarding regulations will have to apply. They have broken all the rules and they will have to deal with it - it’s going to be a very expensive situation for BA.”

British Airways staff writing gate information on a white board at Heathrow Airport, as the airline is “experiencing a global system outage”. Photograph: @theboyg/PA Wire
British Airways staff writing gate information on a white board at Heathrow Airport, as the airline is “experiencing a global system outage”. Photograph: @theboyg/PA Wire

Civil Aviation Authority guidance states that anyone who is more than three hours delayed arriving at their destination could be entitled to compensation.

“We would try to ensure BA are looking after their customers and advising them of their rights,” a spokesman said.

In a letter to customers at Gatwick Airport the airline said: “As part of our care obligations to our customers under EC Regulation 261/2004, we will be happy to consider reimbursing reasonable expenses for meals/refreshments and the provision of hotels, and transport to/from the hotel or other accommodation if an overnight stay is necessary”

Reuters, PA