After being forced to postpone all of its European short-haul services until at least lunchtime on Saturday, British Airways has ordered Heathrow Airport to deploy security officials to bar passengers from entering Terminal 5.
After a severe IT disruption on Friday night that knocked down essential operating systems for more than five hours, the airline decided to proactively cancel more than 200 flights.
British Airways disputed accusations that the disruption was caused by a Russian-backed cyberattack and stated backup systems had been activated. Witnesses said, on the other hand, that the airline was “operating on paper” after employees were forced to resort to manual, labor-intensive processes.
BA has urged Heathrow Airport to limit access to airport terminals because thousands of passengers were stranded and had nowhere to go, according to Heathrow. As a result, there was concern that Terminal 5 would grow dangerously crowded.
British Airways advised travelers to avoid the airport since no employees will be available to assist with rebooking. Instead, passengers were advised to use the airline’s prone-to-failure website to look into rebooking options.
A representative also offered that impacted passengers obtain a future travel voucher, but consumer advocates warned that accepting a voucher would absolve BA of its duty of care obligations.
“We are working as quickly as possible to resolve things and we have backup plans in place so that customers flying can still check-in at the airport this evening. We apologize that this might be slower than usual, but we are doing everything we can to get as many of our flights away as planned,” the airline said in an emailed statement.
“We are sorry to our customers, it’s been a very difficult week and we can only apologize for any further disruption they may experience this evening. We are doing all we can to ensure that we provide up-to-date information about what is going on.”
Heathrow Airport warned that baggage was beginning to pile up, in addition to BA’s whole short-haul operation being wiped out. Last week, a winter storm caused travel mayhem at Heathrow, forcing tens of thousands of customers to wait days for delayed luggage.