BA grounds flights for its traditional yearly IT outage

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After 44 years in business, many passengers might expect British Airways to have tightened up on its IT support. But on the 19th July – one of the most popular travelling days of the year – the former “world’s favourite airline” suffered yet another catastrophic IT failure, delaying tens of thousands of passengers for up to 15 hours.

With 31 inbound and 11 outbound flights axed from London Heathrow, approximately 30,000 passengers were left stranded at international airports overnight, many of whom were families expecting to begin their summer holidays.

Turning IT failures up to 11

The delays came on the same day that Heathrow Airport’s fire alarm had gone off in their control tower, causing understandable delays and cancellations. It was then that British Airways suffered what they’re calling, “an issue with a supplier IT system,” which they said would cause “knock on delays.” Prospective BA passengers might be forgiven for thinking this was an understatement, after their 15-hour unscheduled delay in the departure lounge.

While British Airways did apologise to their customers “for the delay to their travel plans,” their apology may have been drowned out by Virgin Atlantic gleefully reminding customers that their flights, from the same airports, were unaffected. Events of this nature don’t just risk the business losing custom to competitors in future, but, in this instance, also being hit by substantial compensation claims from customers who look set to receive anywhere from around €250 to €600.

IT issues a common problem for BA

Unfortunately for British Airways, over the past few years IT failures have become something of a common occurrence.

In 2017, 75,000 passengers were delayed over a bank holiday weekend after a supplier switched the wrong switch resulting in a hugely disruptive failure of the airline’s computer system. While the airline was adamant this was an accident and that an IT engineer “accidentally hit the wrong button,” it left a sour taste in the mouths of travellers.

Prior to that, in 2016, BA suffered a total failure at its check-in desks. Staff worldwide had to resort to using pen and paper after their IT system failed them; disruption that robust IT backup systems could have prevented.

On top of that, Heathrow’s Terminal 5 has been beset by 5 technical failings throughout the last ten years.

Safeguarding your IT to protect your customers – and your reputation

Unfortunately, British Airways’ many technical glitches mean it is now destined to make the headlines whenever a fault occurs, no matter how accidental, causing much damage to the once reputable BA brand.

In the 21st century, customers increasingly expect a faultless service from businesses, with seamless IT infrastructure underpinning this. Thankfully, more and more businesses are looking to outsource their IT, take advantage of secure cloud services, and maximise efficiency.

Nevertheless, BA’s unfortunate track record is a timely reminder to make sure you understand how safe, reliable, and secure your systems are, and how your processes and data would be protected under similar circumstances. After all, it’s not just your customers that will suffer if your IT system lets you down – but your reputation too. For reliable IT support in Glasgow, get in touch with us at Consilium today.


Consilium UK is offering free Security Lifecycle Reviews (SLR) in collaboration with Palo Alto Networks.

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