UK: British Airways System Outage Sparks Chaos At Heathrow Airport
Thousands of people face having their bank holiday plans plunged into chaos, as British Airways was forced to cancel scores of flights following an IT failure.
At least 156 flights, mainly domestic and European, have been canceled on Thursday and Friday, The Independent calculates, as BA struggles to operate without essential systems.
As many planes were fully booked at the start of the bank holiday weekend, the number of passengers affected is likely to top 25,000, with many more seriously delayed and encountering missed connections, on what was expected to be the busiest weekend since 2019.
Pointing to forecasts of above-average temperatures, motoring group RAC said it expected the bank holiday “to be a hectic period on major roads”, with drivers expected to make more than 19 million leisure trips over the last long weekend before August – the most since prior to the pandemic.
While Inrix analysts predict severe delays on the M25, M5, and M6, rail passengers face a bank holiday free of strike action, with very few major engineering works planned.
‘Many will have traveled to the airport pointlessly’
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travelhas given his take on the cancellations this morning, after noting that “British Airway’s annual IT meltdown appears to have arrived on time”.
He writes: “BA hasn’t given passengers much if any notice, so many will have traveled to the airport pointlessly which makes the whole thing so much more frustrating.”
Andy Gregory26 May 2023 12:51
Delays reported on M3 as road traffic queues begin
Here’s an update on the roads from our deputy travel editor Benjamin Parker:
There have been delays of at least 10 minutes reported throughout the morning on the M3, with a collision at junction 13 (northbound) only adding to that. Those looking to take other routes, such as through Eastleigh, are being warned that there are 20-minute delays through the town.
M3 traffic has backed up in both directions on the M27, with queues of 15 minutes.
The pinch point of the A27 at Arundel is causing delays, and in the Brighton and Hove area there are reports of slow moving or stationary traffic on the A27 – queues are forming.
As for the M25, Britain’s busiest motorway, traffic is queuing in multiple locations, including for miles at junction 10 (A3/Guildford) due to congestion. There is also congested traffic near junction 15 (for the M4) and junction 16 for the M40 on both sides of the carriageway.
Andy Gregory26 May 2023 12:38
Heathrow security staff strike overshadowed by BA cancellations
Our travel correspond Simon Calder has the latest on the industrial action in the travel sector:
Partly as a result of the British Airways cancellations, day two of a strike by security staff at Terminal 5, BA’s main base, is having little effect.
At other leading airports, journeys are proving smooth – with the main issue at Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow being cancellations of BA flights to and from Heathrow.
Staff working at Edinburgh airport have voted strongly in favor of a strike over pay, but no industrial action has yet been called.
The Unite union clearly expects the airport bosses to come back with an improved offer – but warns of “travel chaos” in the summer if a walk-out goes ahead. The airport says it has already made a “fair and generous” pay proposal.
Andy Gregory26 May 2023 12:13
BA cancellations to cost many millions – but not on scale of 2017 bank holiday IT failure
Our travel correspond Simon Calder reports:
The BA cancellations are not on the scale of the late May bank holiday 2017, when another IT failure led to all the airline’s operations at Heathrow and Gatwick being grounded. But the cost in lost revenue, hotel costs and passenger compensation will run into many millions of pounds.
Andy Gregory26 May 2023 12:03
Holidaymakers forced to queue at airports as cancellations hit busy bank holiday weekend
Holidaymakers have been queuing at airports this morning, as British Airways cancellations hit what was expected to be the busiest weekend for aviation since 2019.
Here are the queues at Manchester Airport’s Terminal 2:
At Heathrow’s Terminal 5, passengers were also seen waiting in long lines to be rebooked, as British Airways canceled dozens of flights.
Andy Gregory26 May 2023 11:26
DVLA issues urgent health warning to British drivers
As millions of drivers are set to hit the road this bank holiday weekend, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is reportedly set to update its guidance for drivers with eye conditions “within weeks”.
The agency is said to have made the move after the Association of Optometrists (AOP) “raised serious concerns” over the published list of notifiable health conditions last year. It claimed it was “so extensive that it could apply to almost every driver who receives a sight test”.
In response, the AOP claims that the DVLA has agreed to revise the list, with updated guidance due to be published “in the coming weeks”.
Oliver Pritchard-Jones has the full report:
Andy Gregory26 May 2023 11:14
Wait times of an hour for tourist cars and coaches at ‘busy’ Dover port
The Port of Dover is said to be “busy” as predicted, but processing traffic “well”, with queues of an hour for tourist cars and coaches waiting to cross the Channel.
Here are some pictures from the port:
Andy Gregory26 May 2023 11:03
17 million drivers expected to hit roads as fuel prices fall, says AA
In a slightly lower forecast than the RAC, the AA expects 17 million drivers to hit the roads this weekend as motorists take advantage of lower fuel prices.
“With fuel in some areas at its lowest price since October 2021, many drivers may want to take advantage of the price drop by heading onto the open road. This, coupled with school half-term holidays is likely to lead to much busier than normal roads, particularly around leisure attractions and parks,” the AA said.
“For those fortunate enough to be heading on a road trip abroad, main ports, particularly Dover, where Operation Brock is in place, in addition to Portsmouth and Hull, will see an upturn in traffic so it’s important to plan ahead by checking for travel updates and by keeping plenty of food and drink in your car in case you do get stuck in heavy delays.”
Luke Bosdet, the AA’s fuel price spokesperson, added: “Lower pump prices, with diesel’s average this week down 50p from last summer’s peak to below 150p a liter and petrol typically at 143p a litre, will not only encourage more holiday drivers onto the road but ensure that more of their spending goes to tourism and not the fuel trade.
“Having said that, the often huge price variations depending on where you fill up will drive many drivers round the bend.”
Andy Gregory26 May 2023 10:31
RAC warns cost of living could see ‘more avoidable breakdowns’ on ‘hectic’ weekend
The RAC has warned that the cost of living crisis could result in more breakdowns on what it has said could be the busiest late May bank holiday weekend on Britain’s roads since before the pandemic.
“With so many households under the cosh financially, we’re concerned that a lack of essential maintenance might lead to more avoidable breakdowns than we’d normally see,” said RAC breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis.
“So we’re reminding everyone to ensure their cars are as a ready for a getaway as they can be – if a vehicle hasn’t been serviced recently, this is the week to get one done by a qualified professional.
He added: “Whether a car’s been serviced lately or not, a quick look at oil and coolant levels, together with checking tires are in good condition and inflated properly, can go a long way to avoiding an unwelcome stop at the side of the road Ce week-end.”
Andy Gregory26 May 2023 10:20
RAC issues warning to drivers over busiest late May bank holiday since 2019
Motoring group RAC has warned of a “hectic period on major roads” as drivers are expected to make more than 19 million leisure trips over the bank holiday weekend, which would amount to the most since 2019.
RAC breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “With the travel restrictions imposed during Covid now thankfully a distant memory, it’s clear drivers’ desire to getaway has been reignited with our figures for this coming weekend suggesting leisure traffic volumes will be close to what we last saw in 2019.
“With the Met Office currently predicting largely settled weather with above average temperatures, we’re expecting this to be a hectic period on major roads as people aim to make the most of the last long weekend before August – and that means it will be a busy time for our patrols too.”
Andy Gregory26 May 2023 10:12