British Airways baggage chaos at Heathrow follows latest airport systems failure

Happy landing? British Airways told many passengers arriving at Heathrow Terminal 5 to go home without their luggage (file photo)  (Simon Calder)
Happy landing? British Airways told many passengers arriving at Heathrow Terminal 5 to go home without their luggage (file photo) (Simon Calder)

Thousands of British Airways passengers are waiting for their luggage to be delivered after the latest systems failure at a major UK airport.

On Tuesday afternoon and evening BA’s allocation system – which covers everything from aircraft stands to baggage handling – failed at London Heathrow Terminal 5.

It is the main base for the airline, and the busiest terminal at Heathrow. No other airlines were affected.

The latest chaos arose only two days after a power issue at Manchester triggered the cancellation of 140 flights, with thousands of passengers who did travel arriving without their baggage.

While the cause of the Heathrow failure remains unclear, the effects were clear: severe disruption.

On Twitter/X, David W-J wrote: “Landed at Heathrow T5 tonight at 6.30pm … about 6.50 all arrivals from all destinations told no bags would be delivered… chaos.

“What’s going on with UK airports basic competence?”

Matthew Kiziltan wrote: “No baggage at LHR T5. Told to go home and expect the baggage anywhere from two to seven days. Good job @British_Airways.”

A BA spokesperson told The Independent: “We’ve apologised to those customers who were unable to travel with their luggage due to a temporary technical fault that was outside of our control. This issue has been resolved and we’ve brought in additional colleagues to support our teams in getting bags back to our customers as quickly as possible.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Earlier, British Airways experienced a technical issue with their allocation system, this has now been resolved. Our teams are on site supporting BA with their recovery.

“We advise passengers to check with BA before travelling to the airport as BA passengers in Terminal 5 may still be impacted. No other airline is impacted.”

The Independent has been unable to find out more about the nature of the failure.

Within minutes, scammers were targeting passengers with fake social media accounts. Someone calling themselves “Juliet Harper British Airways Representative” wrote: “Please follow back and share with us via DM your full name, email address, phone number, and reservation number to allow us further“.

This is the starting point for trying to trick frustrated passengers into inadvertently sending hundreds or thousands of pounds to fraudsters.

Travellers who carried only cabin baggage were able to leave the airport as normal. BA has one of the most generous hand luggage allowances of any airline, with passengers allowed to bring two 23kg bags into the cabin.