british airways

British Airways cancels more than 100 flights because of snow and ice

Airways News

With planes in wrong place after the previous day’s cancellations, many flights on Monday were also delayed

 Thousands of British Airways customers at Heathrow have had flights cancelled again on Monday after disruption from snow and ice at the weekend.The airline, the main operator at the UK’s busiest airport, was particularly impacted after worse weather than forecast hit Heathrow from Sunday morning.

BA cancelled 170 flights on Sunday, meaning many planes and crew were out of position on Monday. More than 100 flights BA were cancelled by Monday afternoon.

Heathrow said it was operating three-quarters of its schedule on Monday, although many flights were also delayed.

Passengers shared pictures on social media showing long queues and chaotic scenes in parts of Heathrow airport on Sunday night, with some complaining of a lack of information and compensation from BA. Some arrival flights were diverted, and those that did land delayed due to a lack of available stands.

The airline, which operates around half of all flights from Heathrow, promised to rebook passengers on other carriers or via other routes where possible. It was offering refunds to passengers who decided not to travel or Monday or Tuesday, whether their flight was cancelled or not.

Heathrow urged passengers to check the status of their flight with airlines before coming to the airport.

The disruption, which could affect up to 50,000 BA passengers, has again raised questions over Heathrow’s preparation for winter. The airport was criticised in December 2010 when five inches of snow reduced its operating schedule over five days, leading to an immediate announcement of £10m in snow-clearing equipment.

Further investment followed an inquiry into its winter resilience, including a doubling of its snowclearing fleet to 130 vehicles. But the comparative rarity of snow at Heathrow has meant some measures, such as more de-icing equipment beside the runways, have not been seen as justified or practicable.

BA experienced particular problems de-icing planes – essential for flight safety – as freezing conditions followed torrential rain. Relatively benign weather forecasts for Heathrow meant BA did not start pro-actively cancelling flights from its schedules until late Sunday morning. Some aircraft needed to be de-iced a second time after waiting to take off. As delays mounted through the day, some crew reached the safe cap on working hours, leading to further cancellations.

BA said: “We are very sorry that customers continue to suffer from the disruption to flights at Heathrow caused by the severe weather conditions that have affected airports across northern Europe.

“Time spent on de-icing aircraft to ensure safe operation plus air traffic control restrictions and the re-positioning of aircraft and crews from yesterday have led to further cancellations and delays today.”

Passengers expressed frustration after long waits and lack of information from BA. Beth Kanter, 60, a non-profit and charities consultant from San Francisco, said her BA flight was cancelled on Sunday after passengers had boarded and spent six hours on the tarmac, waiting for de-icing. She said she was told by crew that as the weather was “an act of God”, the airline could not pay for a hotel as a result.

She said she faced further hours of waiting in immigration and in the baggage reclaim, which she described as “total chaos”, unable to find her bags. “There was a huge long line – it must have several hundred people in it – stretching from baggage claim number three to the last one where customer service was,” she said. “There was one person there.”

Kanter’s flight was rebooked for Monday. “They announced that everyone should go home and come back tomorrow to deal with their bags … people were really pissed off and it was stressful.”

“Speaking with other passengers in the line last night, we all agreed that BA has learned nothing from seven years ago and Heathrow have failed to address the issue of having enough de-icers to cope with demand when needed.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “The safety and comfort of our passengers is always our first priority and we are working closely with our airlines to ensure affected passengers are looked after. We apologise to those whose travel has been impacted and regret the inconveniences that have been caused.”

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