British Airways accused of using IT crash to profit off of passengers

Passengers claim British Airways used a global IT crash over the weekend to make a profit after blaming a power surge for the IT crash, reports The Times.

Of the 75,000 delayed passengers, some were forced to pay up to £800, about $1,029, to secure spare seats on other flights, while others paid up to £1,600, about $2,058, to fly with other airlines. Those who traveled with other airlines may not receive a reimbursement at all.

Even worse, some of those trying to claim their compensation were charged up to 55p a minute to reach a BA hotline.

Last night, almost 25,000 of its passengers were still without a flight, and “a significant number” didn’t even have their luggage.

BA restored its full flight schedule at Gatwick yesterday and was operating a full long-haul schedule at Heathrow.

A tenth of short-haul flights at Heathrow were canceled, though. This affected at least 15 departures for destinations including Amsterdam, Belfast, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Milan and Stockholm, but it’s expected that a full schedule for both short- and long-haul flights will operate today.

BA’s chief executive Alex Cruz is being called by some to resign. During interviews yesterday, Cruz blamed a “power surge” at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday for causing the IT failure. He said the surge “collapsed our IT systems,” which affected the technology responsible for the airline’s flight, baggage and customer communication.

He said it was “so strong that it rendered the back-up system ineffective”, which in turned caused an “outage of all our systems” at 170 airports in 70 countries.

However, power companies are denying these allegations, saying that their meters didn’t detect any power surges.

The GMB union claims that it was the airline’s decision last year to outsource IT jobs to India that resulted in the system’s failure, but BA denies this.

Alex Macheras, an aviation consultant, said that it seemed ridiculous that a power issue could affect the airline this deeply.

“The idea that in 2017 an airline can be brought to its knees for three days because of a simple power issue is extraordinary.”

Macheras said there were two women who were meant to fly to Tel Aviv on Saturday. After having their replacement flight canceled on Sunday, they were given the opportunity to catch a flight tomorrow – if they pay £800 to upgrade to premium economy, which are the only seats available.

After some had to pay up to 55p a minute to reach a compensation hotline, it seemed doubtful that passengers would receive reimbursement for their troubles, however, Cruz insists that those who claim compensation will receive it.

“We have been giving letters to customers telling them how to claim under EU compensation rules and we will fully honour our obligations.”

It’s been estimated that BA may owe up to £150 million in compensation.