“Chaos” at Heathrow as British Airways cancels all short-haul flights

Heathrow, United Kingdom - October 4, 2013: British Airways airplanes at their gate at the new Terminal 5.

Technical problems caused British Airways (BA) to cancel all short-haul Heathrow flights on Saturday, leaving travellers frustrated.

According to BA, the cancellations involved hardware issues and were unrelated to cyber-attacks.

But hundreds were stuck at the airport, resulting in suitcases piling up, departure boards turning red and many travellers voicing anger as some attempted their first holiday since the pandemic began.

“It was absolute chaos and completely disorganised at Heathrow this morning,” said Alexander Reeves, a 30-year-old public affairs worker whose flight to Geneva was cancelled.

According to The Guardian, Reeves said he paid £120 (AUD$223) for his flight to go skiing with friends – his first holiday since the pandemic began – but had to buy another £200 (AUD$371.67) one-way ticket to Geneva from London City airport.

“I’m very frustrated,” he said.

“The lack of clear communication is also very poor.”

Another disgruntled traveller, Penny Slaney, 62, a consultant radiologist from Worcestershire, told the PA news agency the communication to passengers was appalling.

“The lack of communication is the primary issue. We heard about the IT issue from a fellow passenger,” Slaney said.

Slaney said her family had not been on holiday for over three years and had to miss a day of their week-long break in Austria.

“There was no information from BA at all – nothing. The news has told us more about what is going on,” she said.

On top of this, BA’s website and app were unavailable for several hours on Friday evening, meaning customers could not check in online or book flights.

While long-haul flights were still operating, the airline said that customers could expect delays.

BA said in a statement: “We are extremely sorry that due to the continuing technical issues we are facing we have regrettably had to cancel all short-haul flights from Heathrow today until midday.

“We are offering customers on cancelled services options including a full refund and all customers booked to travel on short-haul services from Heathrow today can opt to rebook to a later date for free if they choose. We will be contacting customers proactively.”

The outage is BA’s second in 10 days. The airline told customers that there could be further disruption to people’s flights.

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