British Airways travellers are facing cancellations and delays to their flights due to an IT glitch which has crashed online check-ins in the middle of the summer holidays.
The airline has cancelled 81 flights to or from Heathrow as well as 10 at Gatwick, affecting around 15,000 passengers.
More than 200 other flights have been delayed, with some more than five hours behind schedule.
The company apologised to customers for the disruption as images posted on social media by those waiting to fly out showed long queues at airports and error messages on the airline app.
BA ticketholders travelling to the UK from elsewhere – including from the United States, Japan and Vietnam – also vented their frustration online, suggesting a knock-on effect with planes and crews out of position.
A BA 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 some short-haul cancellations and delays from London airports.”
The airline said it was offering customers booked on short-haul flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City on Wednesday the opportunity to rebook for another day.
“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 spokesman added.
“We are encouraging customers to check ba.com for the latest flight information, and to allow additional time at the airport.”
BA said it was not a global outage, and that it was relying on back-up and manual systems to cope with the computer problems.
The airline, which is owned by International Airlines Group, could face a compensation bill in excess of £5m if all those affected claim what they are entitled to under European Union rules.
Holidaymakers arriving at Terminal 5 at Heathrow have been greeted by digital message boards which told them “short-haul check-in is closed” and urging them to make their way back home.
Ysanne Bonner tweeted that she had “spent weeks preparing an anxious teen for our holiday to Naples”, only to learn two hours before leaving that their flight had been cancelled.
“No idea if we will get our long planned & saved for and much needed week away. Devastated but trying to remain hopeful,” she wrote.
Others like Joanna Lewis said they had spent hundreds of pounds on new flights with another airline. “Nice end to the holiday,” she tweeted.
Some already abroad and facing delays or cancellations to their flights home saw the positive in being forced to extend their summer escapades.
“At least if the flight’s cancelled, then we’ll be stuck in sunny Spain,” tweeted Becky Crane.
Many passengers complained of little or no information on the status of their flights, while others who had better experiences commended staff for “managing the chaos”.
Darren Rowe, from the Cotswolds, said his 10.20am flight to Hamburg from Heathrow for business meetings was cancelled before “all chaos let loose”.
He said: “There were massive queues, it was queue here, queue there, nobody was saying anything. The lack of information was just pathetic.
“You’ve got young families in that queue, people going to weddings, birthdays, on business. They could have had somebody come around with water updating people about what was going on.”
Courtesy of Sky News