British airways passengers face 3rd day of disruption

Owen Stevens
June 5, 2017

British Airways (BA) said it would take steps to ensure there was no repeat of a computer system failure that stranded 75,000 passengers over a holiday weekend and turned into a public relations disaster.

He said BA was operating more than 95% of its flights on Monday, with all of its Gatwick services and long-haul flights from Heathrow going ahead.

BA Chief Executive Alex Cruz said the root of the problem, which also affected passengers trying to fly into Britain, had been a power surge on Saturday morning which hit BA's flight, baggage and communication systems.

But no-one from the airline has been made available to answer questions about the system crash, and it has not explained why there was no back-up system in place, the BBC reported.

An airline spokeswoman said that the airline had operated "virtually all" of its scheduled long-haul services out of its London Heathrow hub Sunday May 28, with a "slightly reduced short-haul program". Some stranded passengers curled up under blankets on the floor or slumped on luggage trolleys, images that played prominently in the media at the start of a week when schools were on holiday.

Flight compensation website Flightright.com said that with around 800 flights canceled at Gatwick and Heathrow on Saturday and Sunday, BA was looking at having to pay around 61 million euros ($68 million) in compensation under European Union rules. Add in the cost that the company will have to pay to its customers for their hotel stays and the amount will only go up.

It also offered a full refund or the opportunity to rebook a flight before the end of November if a passenger with a flight on Monday or Tuesday chose not to fly. Cruz said that the airline would fully honor its compensation obligations.

And even as the airline gradually resumes full operations after a weekend it would rather forget, at least one of its competitors has made sure to shower snark on the incident.

BA has been cutting costs to respond to competition on short-haul routes from Ryanair and easyJet and recently faced criticism for starting to charge passengers for their in-flight snacks.

Cruz said the hardware problem was restored "after a few hours", and promised the company would "make sure that it doesn't happen again".

In a statement released on Sunday, chief executive Alex Cruz said: "I know this has been a frightful time for customers". The departure lounge has calmed down and many have rearranged their flights.

The airline apologised to customers for the issue, which is thought to have been caused by a problem with the IT system's power supply.

Many complained of scant information from staff.

Tens of thousands of passengers were left stranded following the failure, which shut down all of the carrier's check-in and operational systems and affected call centres and its website.

Other reports by VgToday

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