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Summary

  1. All British Airways flights from Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday are cancelled
  2. Computer problems are being blamed for causing the disruption
  3. BA apologised for the "global system outage"
  4. The carrier said it was "working to resolve the the problem as quickly as possible"
  5. Passengers are being urged not to travel to Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday

Live Reporting

By Tom Bateman

All times stated are UK

British Airways IT system failure: as it happened

A BA plane takes off above a sign pointing to Heathrow airport
PA

That's all for the BBC live page coverage of the flight delays and cancellations caused by a British Airways IT system failure.

While I'm off home, many stranded passengers won't be. If you've been affected by today's events, BA recommends filing compensation claims online at www.disruptionclaim.britishairways.com

Here's a recap of how the story unfolded:

  • 12:00 BST - passengers begin to report long delays at checkin as British Airways suffers what it called "network wide system issues."
  • The delays began to have a knock on effect on flights returning to London from abroad.
  • 13:13 BST - British Airways cancels all flights scheduled to depart Heathrow and Gatwick after 18:00 BST
  • The GMB union blamed the outage on outsourcing IT work to India.
  • 16:30 BST - British Airways cancels all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick for the rest of the day.

Best of luck if you're still travelling. But for now, goodbye!

Aviation expert warns BA delays could last for 'days'

John Strickland, an air industry consultant, says a backlog of planes and passengers could mean disruption to British Airways services could continue into next week.

Mr Strickland said: "Even if they could quickly get the show back on the road, which is a big uncertainty, disruption could run into several days."

Part of the issue is that many aircraft are now out of position as a result of today's flight cancellations, meaning that for some long haul destinations like Tokyo or Los Angeles, it will take a significant amount of time simply to send a plane to pick up stranded passengers.

"There's a massive knock-on effect," Mr Strickland said.

The IT outage occurred at the beginning of half term for many schools in England, and on the first day of a bank holiday weekend, meaning passenger numbers were higher than usual.

"Heathrow ordinarily would be busy but would be exacerbated by the bank holiday, half-term and Ascension Day, which is celebrated in a lot of Europe," Mr Strickland added.

Stories: British Airways passengers' plans derailed

Yolanda Reneewas stuck at New York's JFK airport:

“We were supposed to board British Airways to travel to London for a huge event, Afro Hair & Beauty Live.

“The BA agents did not communicate the computer crash issue to us until after 8:30am.

“They explained the IT crash and said they would give an update at 2pm; even went as far as saying we may not fly out today at all.

“This is so frustrating because I'm booked for the event.This is a mess!

“My first booked event out of the states and I won't be able to attend because now the flight is cancelled.

“I'm beyond frustrated and I'm exhausted. I've been up for over 24 hours!"

Subrata Mukherjee is in Stockholm trying to return to Dallas, Texas:

“I’ve been stuck on a plane in Arlanda airport, Stockholm, for 5 hours.They served us a sandwich after 4 hours.

“They eventually asked us to leave the plane, but they didn’t give any information on whether we’ll be able to fly.

“I had to book a hotel for myself as I was advised to do so and ask for compensation later.

“I’m trying to fly back home to Dallas after a business trip.

“I will have to cancel a family event tomorrow."

BA passengers 'trying not to cry'

Paul Quinney and family
BBC

The British Airways check-in hall at Gatwick Airport is eerily empty. Elsewhere people are milling around with luggage, gazing hopefully at information boards not knowing if they will be going on holiday.

The emotion came earlier with the first announcement that a major IT system failure meant flights had been cancelled, both here at Gatwick and at Heathrow until 18:00 BST. BA would later announce no flights would be leaving from either airport for the rest of Saturday.

People were in tears as staff started to clear a crowded check-in queue.

Some holidaymakers have been here all day, others have just turned up hoping to catch a flight. BA staff are on hand to help explain the situation as some passengers try to rethink their plans.

Read more...

Paul Quinney and family

BA passengers 'trying not to cry'

How passengers at Gatwick Airport deal with the news IT problems led to their flights being cancelled.

Read more

'I've not been super impressed with British Airways'

The BBC's Phillip Norton has spoken to passengers stranded at Fiumicino Airport in Rome after an IT failure led to all British airways flights out of London Heathrow and Gatwick being cancelled on Saturday.

Pelle Wall, a student from the USA, was planning to return home to Salt Lake City, but missed his connecting flight as a result of the delays.

Those BA compensation letters in more detail

The letters passed to the BBC's Phillip Norton at Rome's Fiumicino airport set out what passengers delayed in today's IT failure can expect in compensation.

Some key points:

  • Passengers shouldn't expect to be rebooked at the airport, online or via a call centre as the system failure has affected those operations as well
  • Passengers are asked not to remain at the airport
  • BA will reimburse costs of up to £200 per day for a hotel room (based on two people sharing)
  • Adults can receive £25 per day in food reimbursements
  • The airline suggests making reimbursement claims online at www.ba.com/disruptionclaim
a letter detailing compensation available to BA passengers
Phillip Norton
a letter detailing compensation available to BA passengers
Phillip Norton

BA compensation letters given to customers

The BBC's Phillip Norton tweets...

British Airways IT failure - where things stand at 17:00 BST

A British Airways A380 taxis at Heathrow Airport
Reuters
  • British Airways has cancelled Saturday departures from London's two biggest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick
  • The move comes after an IT failure caused extensive delays and cancellations around the airline's global network
  • There's no explanation yet for what caused the IT outage
  • The systems affected include call centres and the ba.com website hampering efforts to rebook affected passengers

British Airways statement on cancelling all flights

British Airways said:

"Following the major IT system failure experienced earlier today, with regret we have had to cancel all flights leaving from Heathrow and Gatwick for the rest of today, Saturday, May 27.

"The system outage has also affected our call centres and our website but we will update customers as soon as we are able to.

"We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience this is causing our customers during this busy holiday period."

British Airways IT failure: what happened?

Richard Westcott

Transport correspondent

As ever, it’s a lack of information that’s really making BA passengers angry.

We’re still awaiting an explanation from the airline and a timescale for how long the problems might last.

The GMB union says this meltdown could have been avoided if BA hadn’t made hundreds of IT staff redundant and outsourced their jobs to India at the end of last year.

Yes, the union has a big axe to grind, but still, people will want to know if the airline made its IT systems more vulnerable by scaling back computer support to save money.

Although BA has just flatly denied that to me.

IT problems ripple through an airline.

Here’s an example from today: a passenger told me that airport staff scanned his boarding pass for a flight to Sweden. The first scan said he was going to Chicago. They did it again and it said he was off to Oslo in Norway - and things like that have been happening all day.

If planes can’t take off, they can’t leave gaps at the gate for others to land.

If flights are delayed by more than around 5 hours, the airline must swap crews because shift lengths are strictly limited for safety reasons.

Telling customers to stay away is a drastic measure, but it’s the only chance BA has of clearing the backlog of flights.

BreakingBritish Airways cancels all flights for the rest of the day

BA says all flights scheduled to depart Heathrow and Gatwick airports on May 27th are now cancelled.

Watch: Passengers stuck trying to leave Terminal 5

A BA passenger tweets...

'A three hour line just to get out'

A BA passenger tweets from Heathrow...

Delays in Hong Kong

This is the queue for the help desk

Union blames outsourcing for IT outage

A union has blamed the computer outage which has grounded British AIrways flights on the outsourcing of IT jobs to India in 2016.

GMB said the outage could have been avoided if the airline had not outsourced hundreds of jobs to Asia.

National officer for aviation Mick Rix said:

We can only feel genuinely sorry for the tens of thousands of passengers who are stranded at airports and face having their travel plans and holidays ruined. This could have all been avoided. In 2016 BA made hundreds of dedicated and loyal IT staff redundant and outsourced the work to India."

Flight cancellations come after turbulent week for Gatwick

Luggage at Gatwick
Sig Watkins/@fitmanage

British Airways' flight cancellations from Gatwick come a day after a system error meant flights were leaving without passengers' luggage.

Passengers reported long queues at check-in desks on Friday. Departing flights from the north and south terminals were affected.

The airport said the problem had now been resolved and it was working with airlines to get luggage to passengers "as soon as possible".

The system for handling luggage from arriving flights has not been affected.

Watch: Passengers queue to leave the airport

A BA passenger tweets...

Restless passengers in Stockholm

Pics: The scene at Gatwick airport

Sent from the BBC's Gavin Stamp (who was meant to be going on holiday)

passengers delayed at Gatwick
Gavin Stamp
Passengers wait at Gatwick Airport
BA cancellation notice at gatwick
Gavin Stamp
Signs at Gatwick Airport announce the flight cancellations.
BA disruption compensation letter
Gavin Stamp
British Airways is providing passengers with letters detailing the compensation available to them.

Watch: 'We haven't been given any information'

BBC News Channel

As an IT failure cancels British Airways flights, passengers are left at the airport

British Airways passenger Dan Power was meant to be on a plane to Milan with his 80 year-old grandmother,

But he's stuck at Heathrow. He told BBC News his main concern was that his grandmother might have to sleep on the airport terminal floor overnight.

British Airways: key facts

The view from inside Terminal 5 at Heathrow
BBC

Here's some background information on British Airways:

  • Passengers transported in 2016: 44m, average 120,000 per day.
  • BA flies to 113 countries around the world.
  • British Airways is part of the larger International Airlines Group, alongside sister airlines Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus.
  • IAG was ranked the 6th largest carrier in the world in terms of revenue.
BA delays: 'Absolute chaos' at Heathrow
Passenger Tim Reid describes the scenes at the airport.

EU flight delay rights

If your flight departed from within the European Union or was with a European airline, you might have rights under EU law to claim if the delay or cancellation was within the airline's control.

  • Short-haul flights: 250 euros for delays of more than three hours
  • Medium-haul flights: 400 euros for delays of more than three hours
  • Long-haul flights: 300 euros for delays of between three and four hours; and 600 euros for delays of more than four hours
  • If your flight's delayed for two or more hours the airline must offer food and drink, access to phone calls and emails, and accommodation if you're delayed overnight - including transfers between the airport and the hotel

Gatwick Airport chaos: flights cancelled

BBC Politics reporter Gavin Stamp is at Gatwick Airport where he was planning to travel to Jersey on holiday.

Here's what he said:

"I'm stuck at Gatwick along with thousands of other BA passengers.

"People are being told to go home and are being given forms setting out what compensation is on offer for hotels.

"The picture is totally confused as you can't rebook at the moment. But given that thousands of people are effectively marooned, the mood is relatively calm considering."

BA Twitter jokes about IT outage

Flying today? 'Don't bother'

ITV News' Royal Editor tweets...

Heathrow confirms BA cancellations

The London airport tweets...

Watch: Stuck on the tarmac

A BA passenger tweets...

British Airways: Flights cancelled amid IT crash

passengers wait at heathrow terminal 5
@TIMREIDCE

British Airways has cancelled all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick until 18:00 BST because of computer problems.

A "major IT system failure that is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide", the airline said.

It apologised for the "global system outage" and said it was "working to resolve the the problem".

Heathrow Airport said it was "working closely" with BA to solve the issue.

Read more...

BA passengers: do not travel to Gatwick

The London airport tweets...

British Airways statement in full

British Airways has issued a full statement after an IT failure caused mass cancellations of flights out of London airports:

"We have experienced a major IT system failure that is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide.

"The terminals at Heathrow and Gatwick have become extremely congested and we have cancelled all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick before 6pm UK time today, so please do not come to the airports.

"We will provide more information on ba.com, Twitter and through airport communication channels as soon as we can for flights due to depart after that time.

"We will be updating the situation via the media regularly throughout the day.

"We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience this is causing our customers and we are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible."

BA passengers: Don't come to airports

The airline said the terminals at Heathrow and Gatwick airports had "become extremely congested" and that all flights before 18:00 BST are cancelled.

A BA spokesperson said: "Please do not come to the airports."

Recap: What we know about the BA system outage

  • All British Airways flights scheduled to depart from London Heathrow and Gatwick airports before 18:00 BST are cancelled
  • British Airways passengers around the world are facing long delays
  • Domestic and international flights are affected
  • A BA captain has said the failure affects the passenger and baggage manifests
  • Check in, bag drop, take-offs and landings are all delayed as Heathrow Airport faces a logjam of delayed flights blocking gates
  • Heathrow Airport advises passengers to check the status of their flights before travelling to the airport

Watch: Danish football commentator stuck on BA plane

He was meant to fly in for the FA Cup final tonight...

View more on twitter

Rough translation from Danish - there's "chaos on British Airways" and they've been "waiting for a while."