IT problems cause chaos at Heathrow and Gatwick

We are repeatedly assured that Informational technology (IT) is the way forward at airports; it can improve the customer experience (and conveniently for the airports and airlines it will reduce jobs) but we found out this weekend what happens when one airline has a major IT problem. 

On Saturday 27th May, a bank holiday weekend, British Airways cancelled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports due to a "global system outage".

Wise people are enjoying the weather outside - not herded like cattle inside waiting for flights

Wise people are enjoying the weather outside - not herded like cattle inside waiting for flights

 

Passengers have been facing delays and long waits for what the airline called a "major IT system failure that is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide".

BA says there was no evidence of a cyberattack so we have yet to find out who the company will blame for this fiasco. While the company is extremely sorry for the inconvenience this is causing their customers, the repercussions are far wider. 

They build Heathrow terminals like vast warehouses/cattle sheds for a reason

They build Heathrow terminals like vast warehouses/cattle sheds for a reason

Heathrow sees itself as a hub and this computer problem will surely have implications for other people who have to use the airport as a transport hub. There will also be travellers who use British Airways as only part of a long journey. Reports are coming in via social media of people stranded elsewhere and missing connecting flights. For example, one man would probably have liked to fly direct from his home in the North or England to Las Vegas but instead he needed to fly down to Heathrow. Now he is stuck in Leeds, with holiday plans severely disrupted. Why are people in the North supporting a third runway at Heathrow?

The organisation of luggage is also a mess. Unable to cope, travellers are being told not to come to Heathrow and travellers already there are tweeting about long waits (3-hours or more) to get through border control and out of the airport.

Video is going out on social media showing vast queues and travellers frustrated at the poor organisation and lack of information. 

The joys of air travel at Heathrow

The joys of air travel at Heathrow

Gatwick is likely to be experiencing problems but they will not be on the scale of Heathrow's difficulties if only because of Heathrow's size. 

Look on the bright side - lots of time to spend your cash in airport shops and restaurants

Look on the bright side - lots of time to spend your cash in airport shops and restaurants

Full marks to the person who ordered all those whiteboards and marker pens

With British Airways IT proving useless, it was interesting to see that whiteboards and marker pens were being utilised. Only problem was the lack of staff to deal with all the enquiries generated. Staff cost more money than machines and if they can get customers to do their own tasks, like checking in, that means more profit.

Yet again, passengers are finding out what happens when it all goes terribly wrong.