Armed police called to Heathrow over British Airways flight delay

Tensions mounted as passengers trying to fly from London to Las Vegas were stranded for two days

Armed police have been called to Heathrow airport after passengers became angry that a British Airways flight was delayed for two days.

People were left stranded when technical problems grounded the Boeing 747 due to fly from Heathrow to Las Vegas on Sunday. They thought they would be on their way the following day but a problem with their baggage meant the rescheduled flight was also held.

Cabin crew reportedly informed the cockpit that tensions were mounting and, after a lengthy wait, the passengers were taken off and armed Met police officers were called to meet the plane.

Jim Allison, who was on the plane, described the experience as “terrible”, saying he hoped never to have to deal with BA again. “Learn how to take care of customers and actually fly and we will talk,” he tweeted. Allison said he managed to make the journey at the third attempt, but only with the help of a rival airline.

Congratulations @AmericanAir you did what @British_Airways couldn't do for 2 days in a got us home to Las Vegas!

— Jim Allison (@jimallison) August 8, 2017

Emily Joyce was trying to travel to Vegas for her honeymoon, for which she said she had been saving for three years. She said the two days in limbo had been the “worst ... ever”, but she too had managed to make it at the third attempt.

She said BA’s Heathrow staff were “nowhere to be found” and that the firm had “totally failed us and ruined our honeymoon”.

I will NEVER fly with them again. Staff nowhere to be seen & when you find them they are so rude. Their mistakes have cost me 3 days away!!

— emily joyce (@ejoyce88) August 8, 2017

The problems follow a series of IT issues and an industrial dispute that have hit the airline this year. It was reportedly facing a bill of at least £100m in compensation, additional customer care and lost business as the result of an IT issue in May.

More than 1,000 flights were disrupted at Heathrow and Gatwick, with every one grounded on Saturday 27 May and hundreds more cancelled at Heathrow the following day.

The airline has also been involved in a long-running pay dispute with its cabin crew, with the Unite union threatening another walkout in the final two weeks of August, including the busy bank holiday.

Should that go ahead, cabin crew will have been on strike for the whole of July and August, the union said, accusing BA of making a “half-hearted offer” in its attempt to alleviate the situation.

Unite also said it was pursuing legal action over allegations that BA has imposed sanctions on striking staff.

BA said: “We fully appreciate how frustrating this experience has been, and have apologised to our customers for the long delay to their flight. We provided refreshments, hotel accommodation and help with expenses during the delay, and the flight has now departed.”

A spokesperson for Heathrow airport declined to comment.


Kevin Rawlinson

The GuardianTramp

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