Report: British Airways’ Massive System Outage Blamed on Contractor Pulling Plug
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Last weekend, British Airways had a massive system outage, causing over 700 flights to be canceled and affecting over 75,000 passengers’ travel plans. It’s estimated that BA is going to have to pay out compensation of around £150 million ($193 million). Turns out, the whole issue may have been caused by one simple error.
According to The Times, inside sources believe that a “contractor doing maintenance inadvertently switched the [power] supply off.” Per this account of events, someone flipped the wrong switch or pulled the wrong plug, causing one of the world’s largest airlines to be plunged into darkness. Agents lost access to any records, the website went down for days, baggage records were lost and all flights were canceled.
Not surprisingly, the IT contractors managing the site dispute this version of events. A statement from the outside contractor published by The Guardian notes, “No determination has been made yet regarding the cause of this incident. Any speculation to the contrary is not founded in fact.”
Whatever the cause, it seems those in charge were in such a hurry to get the systems back up that they did so in a way that made the situation worse. From an internal BA email leaked by The Times, we learned that the system was “turned back on in an unplanned and uncontrolled fashion, which created physical damage to the system.”
Failures happen, but what’s quite unbelievable is that BA didn’t have a functioning backup system ready to jump in when the primary system went down. This isn’t the first time that this has happened for an airline. Delta’s August 2016 outage was also blamed on a power failure, with backups failing to keep the system running.
If you were affected by the system outage, make sure that you file for compensation. We go into all the details here, but British Airways has a responsibility to get you to your destination; the airline will pay for hotel, food and ground transportation expenses; you’re entitled to additional compensation per EU law. If BA doesn’t cover all of your expenses, look into the delay protection on the credit card you booked the flights with.
Featured photo by Aramyan/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees