Thousands of British Airways passengers are hit by cancellations and delays of up to 23 hours on inbound flights to Heathrow and Gatwick after IT blunder leaves planes 'without flight plans'
- British Airways flights delayed throughout the day due to a computer crash
- Trans-Atlantic flights to airports including Heathrow and Gatwick worst affected
- Passengers stuck on the ground in the US complained of a lack of information
- No sign of an end to delays with passengers told, 'our boffins are working on it'
- Are you caught in the chaos? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Thousands of British Airways passengers are stranded today after a computer system crash has left planes grounded for up to 23 hours.
Flights across the Atlantic from the US, Canada and Mexico have been worst-hit, with the Heathrow arrivals board showing almost all inbound planes delayed by several hours.
This is the fourth major system failure to have hit the embattled airline this year following two in July and one in August.
Flights from locations around the world, including Los Angeles and Beijing are affected, while passengers at New York, Cancun in Mexico and Chicago are complaining they have been stuck on the ground and receiving no information.
By 9am, some 45 flights due to land at Heathrow on Thursday were delayed by more than 45 minutes. By 4pm, the average flight delay at the airport was 20 minutes.
Customers today said the captain of their flight came to speak to them at the gate in Las Vegas, while others claim pilots are 'unable to file their flight plans'.
BA has so far refused to confirm what has caused the glitch, or how many flights are being affected.
From left: Jennifer Shook, Ann Root, Jim Root (sat in chair) and Ben Shook were affected by BA delays
Left, Jess Gale, from Massachusetts, USA with Mike Murry, from Nevada, were delayed. Right, Frances Kimball was delayed as she flew home to St Albans from Boston
Two British Airways flights coming into Gatwick have been delayed by almost 24 hours.
One was due to arrive from Cancun, Mexico - a nine-hour flight - at 8.45am today, but it has been grounded and will instead get in at 6.07am tomorrow.
And a plane from Kingston in Jamaica was scheduled to touch down at Gatwick at 9.25am today, but is now expected to arrive at 7.18am tomorrow.
One passenger, due to fly to London from Los Angeles, told MailOnline: 'The woman I just spoke to said the flight-plan generator had crashed, it seemingly means pilots cannot get journey details and are left stranded.
'We should have taken off hours ago and there's no sign of us leaving. People are saying they have missed their connections already. It's chaos.'
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Neil and Duncan Cairns-McLaren told MailOnline they were enjoying our honeymoon and due to fly home.
Neil said: 'We are currently in Orlando and were due to fly home to Edinburgh via Gatwick at 6.25pm today. We checked in online last night and printed off our boarding passes and thought all was OK until we got up this morning to the email from BA telling us our flight was cancelled.
'I called the helpline to rearrange our flights home but they were unable to offer us any alternative whatsoever and just wanted to give us a refund and wash their hands of us, basically abandoning us in Orlando with no care of how we would get home.
'We are now booked on a new flight tomorrow, even if it is to Chicago, then Heathrow, then Edinburgh.
'I can safely say I will NEVER book a BA flight again. This is he first time it has happened to me but a friend has had 2 BA flights cancelled, including the flight to her wedding in the Bahamas in April his year.'
Neil and Duncan Cairns-McLaren told MailOnline they were enjoying our honeymoon and due to fly home
One passenger captured the scene in Cancun, Mexico this morning as lengthy queues formed at the departure desks
Disgruntled passengers have shared photos from their grounded flights today
Departures at Heathrow Terminal 5 this morning, where people are anxiously waiting for news
Letters have been sent to customers today, warning them of delays and rescheduled flights
BA flights to Gatwick from destinations including St Kitts, Orlando and Bermuda were also running hours late today.
Flights to and from the UK's two busiest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, appear to be among those affected.
Flight BA170 from Pittsburgh, in the US, was more than 12 hours behind schedule.
The 11:40 from Gatwick to Orlando, was cancelled at short notice seemingly as a knock-on from delays to the inbound plane.
The airline has been dogged by IT problems since upgrading its systems in 2017 with the worst failures hitting up to 75,000 people and costing owner AIG around £80 million.
Hundreds of people on one plane missed their flight connections because of their late arrival and flyers on another flight accused British Airways (BA) staff of lying about the extent of the disruption.
Rachel Goodwin told how passengers frantically fled a flight from Montreal, Canada, as they tried to make their connections to other destinations in Europe.
'There were 200 people on the plane with flight connections at Heathrow – and they all feared they would miss them,' Ms Goodwin, 47, a charity boss from Bath, told MailOnline.
'In the end the flight was only two hours late but everyone thought they would miss their connections.
'The cabin crew called out the departure gates and when the plane did finally land those passengers literally ran off the plane. They had connections to Nice, Geneva, Basel – all over Europe. I don't know if any of them managed to make it or not.'
American tourist Sierra Hadley claimed that BA staff withheld the extent of the delays when she checked in for her flight from Baltimore to London.
Miss Hadley, 26, a nurse, from Washington, DC, told MailOnline: 'The guys at the desk knew there were delays to our flight. But they kept that information from us until after we had checked in – which was irritating.
'We later found out that British Airways had known about the delays since the afternoon. But they choose to lie. We have arrived about two and a half hours late so that has taken up some of my holiday time.
'If they had have told us the truth when we checked in it would not have been so annoying.'
Miss Hadley, who is spending a week in London on holiday, added she would think twice about flying British Airways.
British Airways has been tweeting passengers to update them on the cause of the delay
Some passengers complained about the lack of information from the airline
Ann and Jim Root flew into Heathrow from Washington DC to visit a relative with terminal cancer today.
They eventually boarded an alternative flight which arrived two-and-a-half hours late, delaying the visit to their niece.
Mrs Root, 77, a former nurse from Devon, now lives in Virginia with her American husband, a former US Air Force intelligence operative.
She said: We were promised two aisle seats because I suffer from terrible claustrophobia and my husband has back problems. I ended up with a middle seat and felt so anxious I had to take a Valium.
'Luckily the lady sat in the aisle next to me offered me her seat. She was so angry because she had been moved from first class and was made to sit in economy with the peasants.'
Her husband, Jim, added: 'Our niece has a very rare form of cancer in the uterus and she is terminally ill. It is a big family reunion.
'Our children have flown in too and it may be the last time we see her. We are very disappointed to be delayed.
'The Captain said he could not access his flight plan from Washington and had to get it from London. There were a lot of people who missed their connecting flights.'
US businessman Patrick Doyle and wife Joanna were sat on an immobile plane for two hours
Salesman Patrick Doyle was travelling to London with his wife Joanna on a business trip, but they were hoping to do some sightseeing before his business meetings tomorrow (FRI).
Patrick, 60, of Pennsylvania, US, said: 'We were sat on the plane for two hours and didn't even taxi away from the gate.
'It was frustrating to be sat there on a hot plane and not being told what the problem was.'
The couple's flight was scheduled to take off at 7.30pm, but eventually took off two hours later at 9.30pm.
The pilot was able to make up some time during the flight, which touched down at 9am - more than an hour and a half late.
Joanna, 55, an administrator, added: 'We were hoping to visit some tourist attractions today, but the delay has cut short our fun.
'It was worse for the other passengers though. A lot of them must have missed connecting flights to other locations in Europe.'
Rory Boland, travel editor with watchdog Which?, added: 'This is the latest in a long line of British Airways technical glitches causing delays and cancellations and yet again it's thousands of passengers who are paying the price - left tired, frustrated and with a lack of information and assistance from the airline. BA must do the right thing.'
Long list of failures: BA's painful history of IT glitches
British Airways rolled out a 'cost effective' IT system in October 2015.
But since its launch, the system has caused a host of problems costing the company more than £100 million.
Workers say it crashes 'all the time' and check-in staff are regularly reduced to tears by its glitches.
- The new BA 'FLY' system first broke down on June 19 2015, just weeks after first being introduced.
- The system then suffered another failure on July 7, 2016. Two-hour, seven-lane queues formed at all BA check-in gates at Terminal 5 at London Heathrow.
- Less than a week later and the check-in system broke down yet again. On July 13, lengthy queues formed once again at Terminal 5, Heathrow, after the 'FLY' system suffered further technical problems
- Five days later it broke down once again and on this occasion TV presenter Phillip Schofield was among those to berate the airline for the delays. The IT glitch also hit Gatwick and caused huge queues as hundreds of thousands of families start going away for their summer holidays. Long queues snaked across terminal buildings as irate passengers said BA workers were nowhere to be seen or 'pretending to be on the phone'.
- In May 2017 an IT engineer allegedly failed to follow proper procedure at a Heathrow data centre and caused 'catastrophic physical damage' to servers leaving 75,000 stranded across the globe. The outage lasted just 15 minutes but it stopped online check-in, grounded planes and broke baggage systems and meant BA was unable to resume a full schedule for four days. More than 670 flights were cancelled, costing the company £80 million.
- There were seven BA system failures in total in 2017. Crashes on June 19, July 7, July 13, July 18 and again on August 2, meant huge delays and cancellations for its customers.
- In 2018 furious passengers blasted BA after airline cancels tickets to the Middle East they bought months ago saying fliers should have realised the £167-return deals were a glitch.
- In July 2019 British Airways was told it will have to pay a record £183million fine for a data breach that saw card details of more than 380,000 customers stolen from its website and app.
- Days later holidaymakers headed overseas for their summer break had to leave their bags behind at Heathrow Airport following problems with luggage handling systems. Passengers including former comedian Eddie Izzard tweeted their frustration and posted pictures of cases piling up in the luggage hall.
- In August 2019 A British Airways' IT meltdown caused 12 hours of chaos for 20,000 stranded passengers.
The airline was branded 'pathetic' after customers at Heathrow, Gatwick, London City, Manchester, Edinburgh and Newcastle airports were told to 'go home' and reschedule after its check-in system collapsed. The IT crash at 4.30am - the third in as many weeks - led to 127 cancellations and another 300 delays.
Jonathan O'Brien, 52, was delayed for three hours flying back from Orlando, Florida.
He arrived with his wife at Gatwick today after an eight-hour flight, and said he would not fly with the airline again.
IT DATA BREACH SET TO COST BA BILLIONS
Earlier this year British Airways was accused of trying to limit a potential £3billion payout over a data breach that saw cyber-hackers steal more than 500,000 customers' details.
Some 185,000 customers had their details compromised between April and July last year, and a further 380,000 were hit by the breach between August and September.
Victims could receive as much as £16,000 each in cases where psychological injury is extreme, while average compensation payments for distress could reach £6,000.
The stolen data included login details, bank card details, and travel booking information - plus names and addresses.
Hackers even managed to get their hands on the three-digit security code on the back of customers' bank cards.
The cyber attack - known in the industry as 'pharming' - remained undetected by BA for several months.
The couple had been on a 10-day holiday - a trip that cost them £5,000 in flights with BA.
The management consultant and father-of-two, from Plymouth, Devon, said: 'I wouldn't choose to fly with BA again.
'We should've arrived at 7.30am and got here at 11.30am.
'There was very little communication.
'The only glimmer of hope was the pilot took the time to come to speak to everyone in the departure lounge, but there was a lot of confusion over what was happening.
'We had quite an ordeal getting here, and in the end it wasn't handled well. It is yet another British Airways cock-up.
'BA is an airline that's not organised to handle these problems when they happen, and doesn't seem very interested in helping the passengers.
'The staff on the flight did all they could to help, but British Airways just weren't geared up to be able to manage the situation.'
A spokesman for BA said: 'Our teams are working hard to resolve a technical issue which is affecting some of our flights, and we have rebooked customers onto alternative flights and offered hotel accommodation where they have been unable to continue their journeys last night.
'We are very sorry for the disruption to their travel plans. We are advising customers to check ba.com for the latest flight information and to ensure that contact details are up to date on their booking, so that we can provide the latest information.'
In a later statement, he added: 'We plan to operate a full flight schedule today. There may be some knock-on delays to flights and we are advising customers to check ba.com for the latest flight information.'
In September, unions called off a planned strike at British Airways to avoid causing the firm 'irreparable damage'.
BA pilots had been expected to walk out on September 27, in a repeat of travel chaos earlier in the month that cost £80million in lost revenue.
Pilots had walked-out in a row over pay on 9 and 10 September.
More than 3,000 staff went on strike after their union Balpa rejected a pay offer of 11.5 per cent over three years.
BA had cancelled hundreds of flights ahead of the scheduled walkout on September 27 and 28 but in a dramatic U-turn Balpa declared a 'time-out for common sense to prevail'.
- Are you caught in the BA chaos? Email us your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com