British Airways cancels almost 100 flights as passengers tell of ‘nightmare’ travel chaos

British Airways has cancelled almost 100 flights from the UK's two busiest airports after suffering IT problems with its check-in system.

Thousands of passengers were affected after the airline axed 81 flights due to operate to or from Heathrow and 10 at Gatwick, while delaying more than 200 other flights on Wednesday.

Images showed long queues of passengers at the London airports and error messages on the BA app as some services lagged more than five hours behind schedule.

The airline is using back-up and manual systems to try to cope with the problems.

Heathrow Airport Stock
British Airways cancelled almost 100 flights on Wednesday (Steve Parsons/PA)

A spokesman said: "We are very sorry to our customers for the disruption to their travel plans.

"We are working as quickly as possible to resolve a systems issue which has resulted in a number of cancellations and delays today.

"A number of flights continue to operate but we are advising customers to check ba.com for the latest flight information before coming to the airport."

The airline is offering short-haul passengers departing from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City the chance to re-book to another day between Thursday and next Tuesday.

BA's IT problems come after it suffered a major computer failure over the spring bank holiday weekend in May 2017, stranding tens of thousands of passengers and costing owner AIG around £80 million.

On that occasion, the airline cancelled 726 flights due to a power failure, sparking a raft of compensation claims for flight costs, train and hotel expenses, replacement clothes and toiletries.

On Wednesday, holidaymakers had faced a struggle even getting to Gatwick after the Gatwick Express train service from London Victoria was cancelled.

A fire on the tracks between Victoria and Clapham Junction saw all early-morning Southern and Gatwick Express trains cancelled.

"Heavy residual delays" were expected to drag on and commuters were advised not to travel to the rail station, Southern said.

⚠️ #GXUpdates – The fire has now been put out and lines are now open.

Gatwick Express services are expected to be suspended temporarily, whilst residual delays are cleared between Gatwick Airport & London Victoria

🎫 Ticket acceptance is in place.

ℹ️👇https://t.co/wbKigrPBd5

— Gatwick Express (@GatwickExpress) August 7, 2019

Tim Willcox said passengers were "seething" as he endured a "nightmare" start to a planned short break in Nice, France, with his wife Najah.

The BBC presenter was stranded on the 5.30am Gatwick Express for 20 minutes outside Victoria, put on another train which was also cancelled, and, as a result, missed his 7.25am flight.

He told PA: "Most flights are now either fully booked or have shot up in price or involve stopovers.

"I'm now on a bus. It's just proving a bloody nightmare. I can't afford to spend £1,000 on two flights.

"We've got car hire waiting, a hotel booked. We're now looking at flying to Paris and then flying from Paris to Nice.

"There was a complete lack of communication from Gatwick Express, there was a very rude staff member who just wouldn't answer questions. People were seething."

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