British Airways outage: Airline cancels weekend short-haul flights due to ‘technical issues’

Passengers due to fly with British Airways on Saturday 26 February were faced with flight cancellations and baggage handling issues because of unspecified ‘technical issues’

British Airways has confirmed that the unspecified “technical issues” that prompted it to cancel short-haul flights out of London Heathrow Airport on Saturday 26 February 2022 have now been resolved.

The airline’s IT issues began on the evening of Friday 25 February, with the official Heathrow Airport Twitter account confirming that BA was investigating a technical issue that had rendered parts of its website and mobile apps inaccessible to passengers.

The following morning, the same Twitter account published a follow-up tweet that confirmed the disruption to the airline’s services was continuing, with the departure boards at Heathrow confirming that many of the carrier’s short-haul flights had been cancelled.

Passengers caught up in the disruption began sharing details online about how the incident had resulted in them becoming stranded at Heathrow because of connecting flights being cancelled, while others reported they had been told the leave the airport without their luggage.

The airline confirmed in a tweet on the morning of Sunday 27 February that the unspecified system issues had been resolved, but later found itself coming under fire from users of the social media site for failing to use Twitter to give users regular updates during the incident.

This was on the basis that the Sunday morning tweet had been the first public acknowledgement from the airline about the issues it was suffering, although its social media team had been responding directly to customer complaints about the event over the weekend.

Computer Weekly contacted the British Airways press office to find out more about the precise cause of its problems, and to clarify what steps it is taking to prevent a repeat of it in future. At the time of writing, no response had been received from the airline.

According to a report on the BBC News website, the fallout from the incident was wide-ranging, with numerous systems that BA relies on to conduct its operations at Heathrow affected.

These include the computer systems underpinning its check-in procedures, the setup used to direct its aircraft to their allocated departure gates, and its flight management systems, said the report. 

As a result, BA told the BBC it had made a decision on Saturday morning to do what it could to prioritise the departure of its long-haul flights from Heathrow because they carry more people, are less frequent and the passengers have fewer options for re-routing them.

The airline has suffered a series of IT outages, of varying degrees of severity, over recent years, with the biggest in recent memory taking place during the 2017 May bank holiday.

That outage, caused by a power failure at one of the airline’s two West London datacentres, resulting in the grounding of all BA flights at Gatwick and Heathrow for two days, as well as travel disruption for thousands of its customers.

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