British Airways Grounds Flights Following Global IT Problems [Updated]

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

It’s a holiday weekend, but British Airways passengers aren’t getting the relaxing time off that they’d hoped for. Following a “major IT system failure” that “is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide,” the airline says that flights will have to be grounded until the problems are resolved.


Despite some reports referencing a cyber attack, an airline spokesman tells the BBC that there is no evidence of that at this time. Passengers traveling from Heathrow and Gatwick airports have been asked not to arrive before 18:00 BST. Anyone traveling after that time has been instructed to check their flight status before coming to the increasingly congested airports. Social media users were reporting that the airline’s website was down but it appears to be working now. Information on refunds can be found here. Some British Airways flights are reportedly still arriving and other airlines have not been affected by technical problems.

Twitter is filled with complaints from passengers who were stuck in the cabins of stalled airplanes. Journalist Martyn Kent tweeted that his flight waited on the tarmac for an hour and a half before the captain announced that a “catastrophic” IT failure had occurred.

This is the sixth major problem technical problem to hit British Airways this year. We’ll update this post if more information on the cause of the outage becomes available. Until then, it’s best to take rumors of a cyber attack with a grain of salt.

Update 5/27/17 6:30pm ET: British Airways has canceled all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick airports for Saturday. The company claims that all customers who want a refund will receive one and it hopes to reassign passengers to new flights on Sunday. No timetable for when the IT problems will be resolved has been released. The airline’s chairman and CEO Alex Cruz tweeted a personal apology for the delays.


[Reuters, BBC]




I am just speculating, but I am starting to see this more and more. Major cooperations are slashing IT budgets and ignoring their IT directors who are insisting that they require major infrastructure upgrades.

Eventually something like this happens and everyone blames the IT department.

I cannot stress enough how like a car, networks require maintenance and sometimes major overhauls. As inconvenient as it may be at the time, but it needs to be taken very seriously.

Just recently I sat in a meeting when my boss was pitching the case for a major email system upgrade. Someone on the board actually said “I don’t see why you guys make email sound so complicated. I have email on my iPhone and the Apple Store set it up for me in 5 mins. Why don’t we just buy new iPhones?”