Tens of thousands of passengers at Heathrow airport have had their flights cancelled or heavily delayed due to an IT failure involving check-in systems.
Heathrow is the busiest airport in Europe. The failure is affecting all four passenger terminals, both landside (before the security check) and airside.
It has already hit thousands of Monday morning passengers because of consequent cancellations.
Departure gate information is being handwritten on whiteboards.
More than 100 flights to and from the airport have been cancelled during the day, the vast majority of them on British Airways – the biggest airline at the airport.
BA had intended to cancel around 20 flights because of the severe weather but has grounded a further 80 as a result of what Heathrow calls “technical issues which are currently being resolved”.
One traveller, Tim Barton, boarded his 4.05pm departure to Dusseldorf two hours behind schedule. He told The Independent: “Chaos is an understatement.
“It all started when I arrived from Edinburgh. I went to flight connections and was refused entry by the automatic barriers.
“I wasn’t alone. I was sent to a BA customer service desk. There must have been 50 people in the queue – some with tight connections to the US and Japan.
“No information available. Just had to keep asking people what’s going on.”
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We are continuing to experience technical issues which are currently being resolved.
“We have additional passenger ambassadors being deployed across our terminals both airside and landside to help direct our customers to their departure gates.
“We apologise for the disruption this is causing our passengers.”
Besides the cancellations, passengers are experiencing long delays.
One Emirates flight to Dubai was almost three hours late, causing many passengers to miss connections in the UAE.
Further problems are expected at the start of the working week, especially for transfer passengers.
British Airways has already cancelled at least 30 Monday morning flights to Heathrow because aircraft and crew are out of position.
A BA spokesperson said: “We’re aware that Heathrow airport is currently experiencing a technical issue that is impacting some of its IT systems across the airport, affecting a number of airlines.
“We are working with them to resolve the issue, and we have brought in extra staff to help get our customers on their way as quickly as possible.”