So sad this weekend to see so many people’s holiday dreams being crushed because of the British Airways global IT catastrophe resulting in the cancellation of all its flights. I don’t think anyone could fail to be moved by the chaotic scenes at the airport with children crying and endless queues of frustrated and upset passengers desperately trying to find information about their flights. How truly awful for this to happen on any day of the year, let alone on a bank holiday weekend at the start of half term week.
At the end of the day, whether it was a cyber attack or purely down to what has been described by BA boss Alex Cruz, as “a power surge”, it has had a crippling effect on the airline, effectively bringing operations to a complete halt. Such is the power of technology.
However, a massive IT failure on this level should never have been possible in a company like British Airways who you would expect to have the most robust back up systems in place to protect its operation and passengers from such a potentially catastrophic event.
Having worked for British Airways myself in years gone by, I have watched with dismay as the British flag carrier has fallen from grace. An airline which sets itself apart from the competition with its efficiency, reliability and the confidence its customers have in the belief they will be looked after if things go wrong, has performed disappointingly way below expectations and this is unfortunately not going to be an easy fix.
What was particularly frustrating, was the complete lack of any management presence in the terminals to take responsibility and answer questions. Alex Cruz seemingly had time to produce a video for Twitter about the incident but not to face his passengers in person, leaving his front line staff to deal with the aftermath alone. He finally surfaced on Monday to face the cameras full of apologies and promises of a full investigation into what went wrong. I doubt that this will be much comfort to the thousands of passengers who were affected.
From a customer service point of view, what an absolute disaster. BA have been heavily criticised for a lack of information and poor communication. The silence in the terminals served only to anger and upset many passengers, who were forced to queue for hours only to hang around the airports minus their luggage waiting for updates which never came.
Of course you cannot provide information when you do not have it yourselves and it’s better maybe to say nothing at all than give misleading, inaccurate information just for the sake of it. However, what is incredibly hard to believe is that the reason for zero tannoy announcements was that BA ground staff themselves didn’t have a clue what was happening. This was a massive management failure from the top and the way the whole debacle has been handled is nothing but a disgrace.
It’s no wonder that passengers feel so disappointed and let down. Surely someone somewhere in the airline must have known what was happening. In the end, many passengers and staff only found out about cancellations and the extent of the problem through social media otherwise they would have been none the wiser!
Passengers may in time accept what happened this weekend as they are forced to make alternate travel plans but the scars of their experience with the world’s favourite airline may unfortunately take far longer to heal. With an incident of this enormity, silence from those who lead, is at the very least completely unforgivable and most definitely not golden.