July 13, 2024

BA Scrambles to Address IT Woes After Flight Cancellations

British Airways faces mounting pressure to overhaul its IT systems and communication strategies following widespread flight cancellations due to a technical issue, causing chaos for thousands of passengers.

Heathrow Airport queues 310821

Photo Source: Evening Standard

British Airways (BA) is under intense scrutiny to upgrade its IT systems and enhance communication with passengers after a series of flight cancellations attributed to a hardware issue, not a cyber attack. The airline halted all short-haul flights from Heathrow until midday on Saturday, with additional cancellations throughout the day.

The technical disruption affected operations at Gatwick and London City Airport, leading to delayed flights, baggage pile-ups, and passengers stranded on planes after landing at Heathrow. BA’s website and app were inaccessible for hours on Friday evening, preventing online check-ins and bookings, exacerbating the chaos.

Dr. Penny Slaney, a consultant radiologist from Worcestershire, criticized BA’s lack of communication, calling it “appalling,” while social media buzzed with complaints about insufficient information.

Travel correspondent Simon Calder, currently in Qatar and scheduled to return with BA, highlighted the airline’s need for IT investment despite its strong safety record. Calder estimated that 1,500 passengers were impacted by the early morning cancellations to Geneva alone, contributing to significant reputational damage.

Photo Source: British Airways

Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, emphasized that continuous technical issues undermine consumer confidence, urging BA to be transparent about the causes and expected resolution timelines.

Lisa Webb, a consumer law expert at Which?, recommended that BA offer alternative routes or refunds to affected passengers. She stressed the importance of clear communication regarding compensation entitlements.

This incident marks BA’s second outage in ten days and follows several high-profile IT failures, including a significant data breach in 2018 affecting 420,000 customers and staff. Previous IT issues, such as the 2017 glitch that stranded 75,000 travelers, were linked to human error and criticized for cost-cutting measures.

BA advised customers to check their flight status on ba.com before heading to the airport. The airline apologized for the inconvenience, committing to getting as many customers and flights away as possible.

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