British Airways has suffered a major outage, causing cancellations and delays of flights, pile-ups of luggage and leaving passengers stuck on planes after landing at Heathrow.
The airline’s website and app were inaccessible for hours on Friday evening, preventing customers from checking in online or booking flights.
BA said it was experiencing “significant technical issues” and that it had back-up plans in place allowing passengers to check in at the airport.
Passengers concerned about their flights on Saturday will be notified of any changes by the company, which said it will “make decisions” about its weekend operation as soon as possible.
Ed Hall, 54, a television executive from Woodstock, Oxfordshire, was stranded on a plane for over an hour after touching down at Heathrow Terminal 5 because the crew could not access any IT systems to get a stand where passengers could disembark.
He said there were issues even before his BA 399 flight took off from Brussels.
Mr Hall told PA: “We couldn’t take off as the pilot’s system that calculates weight, loads and distribution went offline and we had to go back to the gate from the runway to get a (manual) copy sent from London.
“BA is running on paper tonight”.
Once he finally disembarked, baggage was piling up from passengers stuck on other flights, he said.
Mr Hall added that a friend waiting for a long-haul flight in Terminal 5 was having to board manually.
Photographs of departure boards in Terminal 5 showed few flights boarding, while people complained on social media about a lack of information.
Sophia Prout, 33, from London, said she was “pretty frustrated” when her BA flight to Lisbon, scheduled for 7.05pm, was cancelled just after 9pm.
She had waited in Terminal 5 for a total of four hours after checking in at around 5pm when only a few of the desks were working.
Ms Prout, who had been looking forward to visiting friends in Lisbon, said she had arrived at Heathrow early because she could not check in online.
She said: “We’re lucky that we can turn around and go home if the flight gets cancelled, but would be nice to get an idea of when/if we will take off.”
It is BA’s second outage in 10 days.
The company said: “We are experiencing significant technical issues this evening which are affecting the running of our operation and regrettably has led to the cancellation of a number of flights.
“We are working as quickly as possible to resolve things and we have back-up plans in place so that customers flying can still check-in at the airport this evening.
“We apologise that this might be slower than usual, but we are doing everything we can to get as many of our flights away as planned.
“We are sorry to our customers, it’s been a very difficult week and we can only apologise for any further disruption they may experience this evening.
“We are doing all we can to ensure that we provide up to date information about what is going on.
“We will make decisions about our operation tomorrow as soon as we can and notify affected customers of any changes.”
Heathrow Airport said: “Heathrow’s systems and air traffic control are operating as normal.
“We are aware of a technical issue that @British_Airways are investigating and we will be working with them to provide updates to passengers as soon as they are available”.