Warkworth couple caught up in British Airways flight chaos

Chris and Roger Harrison pictured at a lake in the Banff National Park, Canada, during their holiday.
Chris and Roger Harrison pictured at a lake in the Banff National Park, Canada, during their holiday.

A Warkworth couple caught up in the British Airways flight chaos caused by an IT crash have described scenes of utter confusion and misinformation at Heathrow Airport.

Chris and Roger Harrison, both 73, arrived at the London-based airport at midday on Saturday, having flown from Canada after a 'fantastic' holiday.

The couple were unaware of what troubles were ahead until they were making their way to catch their BA flight back to Newcastle. And they have criticised the lack of information available to them and other passengers after an IT power cut resulted in mass flight cancellations at Heathrow and Gatwick over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Chris said: "We left Canada - flying with Air Canada - on Friday afternoon and landed at Heathrow on Saturday midday. No information was announced on our flight that there was any problem at Heathrow.

"Our connecting flight to Newcastle was due to take off at 1.30pm, so we dutifully hurried from Terminal 2 to Terminal 5 to find scenes of utter confusion and misinformation. There was no panic, but it was chaos and there were one or two people in tears.

"We were thankful that we were not travelling with small children and that although we are in our seventies we are still quite fit and able to cope with it all.

"Nobody had any information and that was the problem. There were one or two pilots and flight people trying to find information themselves and they were besieged by people who wanted information from them. The whole system was down and it was only through word of mouth that we managed to find out what was going on. The experience spoiled the end of the holiday."

Thankfully, Chris and Roger have family living in Northwood, London, so they stayed there overnight and were driven back yesterday, finally arriving at Warkworth at 4pm.

Chris said: "Our travel consultant, Eve Moir, tried to get us a flight on Sunday morning, but they were cancelled, and all the trains were fully-booked. So my brother-in-law Philip Harrison, who is 84, drove us back yesterday.

"We were fortunate to have a relative in London with whom we could stay on Saturday - once we found that all flights had been cancelled and were able to eventually get out of the airport, which took a good few hours."

But while Chris and Roger are back, they are still waiting on their luggage to be returned and they don't know when that will be.

Chris said: "We are still waiting for our main luggage to arrive, but at least we now have confirmation that it is on the BA list so we live in hope that our mementos and belongings, including the dirty washing, will be reunited with us soon."

Earlier today, the BBC reported that BA is working to restore its computer systems, stating that the airline is 'closer to full operational capacity'. However, thousands of passengers remain displaced, with large numbers sleeping overnight in terminals, and BA has not explained the cause of the power problem.

Cancellations and delays affected thousands of passengers at both Heathrow and Gatwick on Saturday. All flights operated from Gatwick on Sunday, but more than a third of services from Heathrow - mostly to short-haul destinations - were cancelled.

Numerous short-haul flights at Heathrow have been cancelled today and Heathrow has advised affected BA passengers not to travel to the airport unless their flights had been rebooked, or were scheduled to take off today. Passengers on cancelled flights have been told to use the BA website to rebook.