England

BA passengers 'trying not to cry' over cancelled flights

Empty BA check-in
Image caption There were tears as passengers were cleared from the British Airways check-in hall which now stands empty

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.

Among the usual security warnings to stay with your bags there have been announcements apologising for the disruption. Many people are waiting calmly and patiently to see what happens.

Image caption Fiona Lancaster feels it is "unlikely" she will be able to book a flight to Sicily later where she plans to spend her 50th birthday

Fiona Lancaster, 49, from Braintree, Essex, was due to fly to Sicily and has been in the airport for four hours.

"They don't automatically rebook you. You have to try to rebook yourself...and if you book with another airline there is no refund. I've been deciding whether to sleep in the car," she said.

"There have been a lot of people in tears. I'm trying not to cry. I was going on holiday for a week and am a bit upset. I was supposed to be on Mount Etna for my 50th birthday next Friday, I was on a tour."

Image caption Mariah McIntyre says it was "wishful thinking" after arriving at the airport with her children

Mariah McIntyre, 39, who is with her two children Sloane, three, and Ellie, seven, were supposed to be flying to Portugal for a half-term holiday.

Ms McIntyre said: "We knew the situation but we still turned up. It was wishful thinking. We are going to check other flights.

"We'll give it several hours and will await the next update, we are looking at other airlines and we're trying to be resourceful and we are going to look at other routes via Lisbon and Seville.

"I had a feeling about the refunds. We're kind of out of luck but we have to be positive and we have to try and not get frustrated until we've tried every which way."

Image caption Paul Quinney and his family have spent £15,000 on a "once-in-a-lifetime" holiday

Paul Quinney said: "We arrived at 07:45. We are going to Orlando for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Disney.

"We were waiting to board the plane at the gate when we got told. We got turned back to departures and told to book a flight and stay in a hotel and pay for everything again.

"It didn't help us in any way. They're not putting us in a hotel. They didn't tell us what was happening - we just found ourselves in the baggage hall.

"We saved for a year for this. it's a £15,000 holiday and we have probably lost three days of it."

Image caption Kujdes Duraku said there was "no information"

Builder Kujdes Duraku, 31, said: "The website's crashed. I just got here I don't know much about what's happening. I'm trying to fly if I can. But they said there is no information. I talked to one of the managers.

"He said that the system had crashed I had to wait until 18:00 and and there is no more information. I'm flying to Albania for a holiday. I just got here I don't know what's happening I don't even know whether I've got to rebook."

Image caption Dr Babatunde Tikare said he was still "feeling optimistic"

Dr Babatunde Tikare had been due to fly to Malaga with his family and said they were feeling "pretty anxious".

"We're coming back on Thursday, so it's not a long trip. I couldn't get any information on the BA site, so I've been checking the BBC for possible updates."

He said passengers had been speculating over whether the problems had stemmed from a cyber attack although BA has said there is no evidence that is what caused it.

Dr Tikare, who works as a paediatric doctor, said he had heard about people being stuck on planes "for hours".

"We are just hoping it will have cleared up and feeling optimistic," he added.

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