A “technical issue” has left thousands of British Airways passengers facing cancelled flights and long delays at Heathrow.
At least 50 BA flights from the airport in west London were cancelled on Thursday afternoon, while a large number of inbound flights were delayed for more than an hour.
BA did not specify what the problem was but it was believed to have been related to the airline’s own computer systems showing the status of planes.
The airline said: “While the majority of our flights have continued to operate today, 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.”
Queues of passengers seeking assistance were forming at Heathrow, with some also unable to check in online.
The airline has mainly cancelled flights to destinations with multiple departures to allow customers to travel.
According to BA customer services advisers on Twitter, the airline’s systems appeared to be recovering, although the company did not confirm this.
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.
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A Heathrow spokesperson said: “British Airways is currently working to resolve a technical issue with its systems. We have additional Heathrow colleagues on hand in the terminals to provide passengers with any additional assistance required.”
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.