Liz Hurley among British Airways passengers hit by Christmas flight delays

The airline said its operations were hit by a technical issue which has since been resolved.
The airline said its operations were hit by a technical issue which has since been resolved.

Model and actress Liz Hurley slammed British Airways’ “dodgy service” after becoming one of thousands of passengers whose pre-Christmas flights were grounded.

Dozens of flights were cancelled and many others were delayed for a whole day.

The airline said its long-haul operations were hit by a technical issue which has since been resolved.

Hurley’s flight from the Caribbean island of Antigua to Gatwick was among those which were severely delayed.

The 57-year-old wrote on Twitter: “Stranded at Antigua airport with no food or water, taxis or hotels offered yet. Plane delayed 20 hours.”

Hurley, who lives in Herefordshire, later posted that she was “still stranded” and hit out at the airline’s “pretty dodgy service”.

She added: “Still nothing from @british_airways. Extraordinary service! Finally, managed to find a taxi ourselves to escape airport after more than 12 hours with no food or water. #avoidflying”

A British Airways flight from Antigua to Gatwick was scheduled to arrive at 9.10am on Tuesday, but is now not expected to touch down until 5.25am on Wednesday.

Since Monday night at least 32 long haul flights to or from Heathrow have been cancelled, affecting routes serving the US, Canada and Japan.

There are also long delays to a number of other flights serving Heathrow and Gatwick.

They include an arrival from the US city of Chicago, which is expected to land at Heathrow 26 hours behind schedule.

British Airways said in a statement: “Our teams have now resolved a temporary issue that affected some of our long-haul flight planning systems overnight, which resulted in delays to our schedule.

“We’re sorry for the disruption caused to our customers’ travel plans.”

British Airways said the problem related to a single piece of software, and was not a repeat of IT outages which have repeatedly hit its operations in recent years.

It said the issue did not have an impact on safety, did not affect aircraft already in the air and was limited to long-haul flights.

Affected passengers criticised the airline for the lack of information provided.

Tom Harding, 33, of north London, waited with his wife at Boston Logan airport in the US for six-and-a-half hours before being told their 9.40pm departure to Heathrow would take off nearly an entire day later than planned.

He told the PA news agency: “We were sat waiting at the gate along with all passengers and weren’t told anything about a potential delay until 9.15pm.

“This was a huge frustration among passengers. Why was there so little information being shared to proactively avoid frustration?

“Eventually at 12.30am they announced our flight would not be going ahead, with very few updates provided by BA in between.

“There were kids crying, people upset over losing connections to different places, and all of us were tired and fed up.

“To know we now have to wait a whole day to try and get home is mad.”

Mr Harding said he accepted that “all businesses can have technical issues” but described the lack of communication from British Airways as “really poor”.

He added: “I was finding more out on Twitter from other passengers passing comment from a plane captain than I was from BA officially.”

Kerry, who did not give her surname, was due to fly from New York’s JFK Airport to Newcastle via Heathrow but the first leg of her journey was cancelled.

The 45-year-old from Durham told PA she was initially sitting on an aircraft but the delay to the flight became so long that it was cancelled, so passengers were told to return to the terminal building.

She said: “We’ve been here 13 hours now and still not rebooked. We’re still waiting in the customer service queue.

“We have no idea yet when we’ll get to Heathrow let alone Newcastle.”

She described British Airways as “appalling”, stating that she was told “four different things from BA staff and two of them just walked away and left us”.

Re-booking passengers onto alternative seats is particularly difficult this week because there is incredibly high demand for air travel as it is the first Christmas without coronavirus restrictions in three years.

Under consumer laws, affected passengers are likely to be entitled to up to £520 compensation from British Airways, meaning the total cost to the airline could run into millions of pounds.

The carrier must also provide vouchers for a reasonable amount of food and drink, and overnight accommodation as required.

There were already concerns about disruption to pre-Christmas flights due to a strike by Border Force workers.

About 1,000 Border Force staff who are members of the Public and Commercial Services union at Heathrow, Birmingham, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester airports will strike every day from Friday to the end of the year, except December 27.