As millions of families begin the half-term week and many more begin their bank holiday weekend, British Airways will enter a third day of disruption and cancellation on Saturday.
The airline has canceled at least 200 flights since its systems were crippled by an outage on Thursday, with some Saturday services now affected.
Even allowing canceled flights, Friday has been forecast to be the busiest day for flights from the UK since before the Covid pandemic. More than 3,000 flights are expected to depart, carrying an estimated half a million passengers.
BA must purchase tickets from rival airlines for disrupted passengers to get them to their destination on the same day as originally booked, if space is available. But at the beginning of the half-term week for many schools and the weekend of the bank holiday, very few spaces are available.
The BA disruption is not yet on the scale of the bank holiday at the end of May 2017, when another IT failure resulted in all airline operations at Heathrow and Gatwick being suspended. But the cost of lost revenue, hotel costs and passenger compensation will run into the millions of pounds.
One passenger described the situation as “absolute shock” as he and his wife attempted to get to Berlin.
Antony Knights, 44, said: “Terminal 5 was in absolute chaos and most people were queuing to talk to the desk, and there were only two BA employees on it and no notice. any.
“There were only two staff members queuing about 100 meters long. There are people everywhere who need support.
“It is disappointing and frustrating. Things happen from time to time but this is not the first time the British Airways system has affected people.”
Rory Boland, consumer magazine editor What? TourismThe busy holiday season has only just begun but BA has broken its promise to customers that it will avoid a repeat of last year’s travel turmoil, with thousands of passengers now falling into holiday hell. due to another wave of IT disaster.
“Incidents like this have become all too common.
“BA has a legal responsibility to issue refunds or diversions to any passenger caught up in the mayhem, and travelers should not be afraid to exercise their rights.”
Due in part to the cancellation of British Airways flights, a second day of strike by security staff at Terminal 5, BA’s main facility, had little effect.
At other top airports, trips were smooth – with the main issue at Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow being the cancellation of BA flights to and from Heathrow.
Staff at Edinburgh Airport voted strongly in favor of a pay strike but no industrial action has yet been taken.
The Unite union apparently expects airport bosses to return with an improved offer – but warns of “travel chaos” in the summer if a strike takes place. The airport said it had made a “fair and generous” pay proposal.
In Dover, where the first weekend of the Easter holiday was marked by lengthy delays to coach trips to France, contingency plans appear to be working. The coaches have been scheduled to leave the main port, but once they reach the French border, the check-in process will be swift.
The port said private cars had to wait an hour for passports to be checked. After Brexit, an EU hard border was imposed at the port, with all British travelers having to check and stamp their passports.
Truck traffic is being controlled to limit delays for tourists.
With good weather predictions, the RAC warned motorists to prepare for the “busiest late-May bank holiday since 2019”.
According to traffic analyst Inrix, there could be severe delays on major roads.
- On Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays Mondays, the roads will be busiest between 2pm and 7pm. The M25 will be under pressure, especially counterclockwise from junction 4 to Dartford Interchange.
- The M6 in Cheshire and Lancashire is predicted to be busy on Sunday afternoon.
The latest national rail strike will wreak havoc on the second half of the half-term.
From Wednesday 31 May to Saturday 3 June, Aslef train drivers, along with other railway workers belonging to RMT and working for more than a dozen train operators, will be leaving again in the next few days. The long and bitter dispute over wages and work arrangements.
Both unions said the strikes could continue through the summer.
Transport services for Wales and Scotrail are not affected.