British Airways suffered yet another IT failure, causing knock-on flight delays and cancellations for thousands of unhappy travellers*.
An unspecified computer system crash has meant some of BA's fleet has been grounded for hours and counting – it seems to be largely an inbound flight issue. Long-haul flights appear to be have been the worst hit, giving a hint about the cause of the problem.
BA wouldn't be drawn on what happened or why, saying only:
"We plan to operate a full flight schedule today. There may be some knock-on delays to flights and we are advising customers to check ba.com for the latest flight information. We are sorry for the disruption to customers who have been affected."
Disgruntled customers sat in airport lounges began complaining about the disruption last night, with one being told of a potential power outage.
Why is BA suffering a worldwide computer outage so all their flights are on hold? 3rd BA flight in last 3 months that has been cancelled? Race to the bottom @britishairways #BArockbottomcustomerservice— PaulyT (@PaulHur26987154) November 20, 2019
This was backed up by passenger Liz Yates from London, who told the Daily Mirror about her inbound flight from Orlando, Florida:
"The pilot said they don't want us to board until they have a flight plan and because all the computers at Gatwick have gone down," she said.
Planespotter website The BA Source published a number of blog posts (sample here) attributing cancellations and delays to "issues with the airline flight planning system".
Mindful of the last time something similar happened, The Register asked Amadeus, B2B travel tech suppliers, whether its Altea Departure Control product had gone down – but the company confirmed all was working well and the outage and delays today were nothing to do with it.
We have contacted Lufthansa Data Systems to ask whether there were any problems with its Lido eRouteManual flight planning product, which appears to be used by BA to generate flight plans and display airport charts and the like to its pilots. We will update this article if we hear back from the firm.
* Our intrepid reporter Richard Speed – The Reg's resident "Jonah" – is due to fly on a BA flight from San Diego to London this evening, and told us it is already massively delayed.
For those among you with short memories, Mr S, while – travelling to Microsoft's Ignite shindig in Orlando this month – was "sprayed with a fine mist of snot and blood from a neighbouring economy passenger suffering the combined effects of a cold and some high-altitude nose picking" and then "treated to rainfall in the cabin" as the plane descended into warmer air.
Richard was also there during the Great Drone Grounding at London Gatwick airport in December 2018. If you see him, buy him a pint.
As a service to readers, we will be running a "Where's Richard?" feature so you can make sure your travel plans never ever intersect with those of the unluckiest hack on the planet... ®