A “technical issue” has left British Airways passengers facing the possibility of further delayed or cancelled flights at Heathrow heading into Friday and the bank holiday weekend.
At least 50 BA flights from the airport were cancelled on Thursday afternoon, while a large number of inbound flights were delayed for more than an hour.
Some passengers due to depart on Friday evening were notified their flights were delayed. The airline said passengers should check their flight status before going to the airport on Friday.
A statement from British Airways released just before 10pm on Thursday said: “We’re aware of a technical issue, which we have been working hard to fix … Due to high call volumes please only contact us if you’re due to travel in the next 48 hours.”
A tweet from British Airways at 11.27pm on Thursday said systems were back up and running but there might still be intermittent issues.
The airline said: “While the majority of our flights have continued to operate [on Thursday], we have had to cancel a number of Heathrow flights due to a technical issue.
“Affected customers have been contacted and offered options, including a refund or rebooking to an alternative flight with us or another carrier. We are extremely sorry to our customers for the inconvenience caused.”
On Thursday queues of passengers seeking assistance formed at Heathrow, with some also unable to check in online. The airline mainly cancelled flights to destinations with multiple departures to allow customers to travel.
One Twitter user, who was at the airport around 7pm, said: “Almost all BA flights from LHR T5 cancelled tonight. No info. About 4 people on BA desks trying to deal with the chaos. Come on BA you can do better than this. You are supposed to be the UK’s flagship.”
The disruption came as the airline and airport were working to minimise the fallout from the first day of a three-day strike by security guards at Heathrow who are members of the Unite union. Friday is expected to be the busiest day overall in the UK for departing flights since 2019, according to data from analysts Cirium.
The IT issue is unrelated to the strikes, with Heathrow saying its contingency plans had kept security queues flowing across the airport.
BA has suffered a number of IT failures, including one in December that led to a number of long-haul cancellations. Its most notorious IT incident also occurred at the start of a May half-term getaway, in 2017, when tens of thousands of passengers were stranded after its systems were accidentally turned off.
With PA Media