Thousands of disgruntled travellers had their bank holiday weekend plans ruined amid a string of flight cancellations on one one of the busiest days of the year for airlines.
More than 40 British Airways (BA) and EasyJet flights have been cancelled on Friday to and from Heathrow and Gatwick airports, causing “chaotic scenes”, with some passengers reporting issues with the airlines’ customer services.
Britons hoping to be in Rome, Athens, Brussels and a number of American cities over the long weekend have vented their frustration on social media over missing weddings, birthday celebrations and even a memorial service.
Further flights were cancelled on Thursday evening in what airlines have blamed on poor weather conditions in London and across Europe.
Labour MP for Huddersfield Barry Sheerman wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Chaotic scenes at Heathrow as flights cancelled & people stranded…has it become the norm for those travelling with British Airways.”
BA passenger Bernie Dunn wrote: “Spending the day in Edinburgh Airport. Plans for weekend also ruined due to this. Poor communication and customer service, not good enough British Airways.”
Another traveller wrote: “British Airways cancelled our flight to Vienna 3 hours before we are due to fly - offers an alternative flight to get us there by tomorrow 7pm. Tried calling customer services and the line just disconnects. Thanks BA - f***ed us over our friends’ wedding!”
My flight from Nice to London was cancelled with very little notice and as there are no other flights today I’ve had to book for tomorrow. The only fare available tomorrow was 900 euro! Missing my father’s memorial prayers. Terrible service. Will not fly BA again!
— Sandra Weiner (@s4tw) August 25, 2023
@British_Airways canceled my flight to Rome today THIS MORNING. Their chat is USELESS and no one answers the phone. I have a ship to board tomorrow morning at 9am and there no flights available anywhere.
— Jesse Ryan Graham (@jesseryangraham) August 25, 2023
@British_Airways I have been in Heathrow since 8:00pm or so, awaiting a connection to Dublin from NYC. Flight was delayed then cancelled, with zero updates from staff here at the airport, not a single email, call, text or app notification how to proceed. “Get a hotel and wait”
— Gary Nieves Jr • GLNJR • 🇵🇷 (@garynievesjr) August 25, 2023
The Standard can confirm at least 31 BA flights to and from Heathrow Airport were cancelled on Friday, while the Independent reported at least 50 were cancelled.
BA flights to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Houston, Copenhagen, Jersey, Washington DC, Athens, Rome and Brussels were cancelled.
Flights meant to be arriving in London from Scotland, Venice, New York, Nice and Naples were also among those cancelled.
Cancelled EasyJet flights that were due to arrive at Gatwick on Friday included services from Edinburgh, Athens, Faro, Nantes, Milan and Valencia.
EasyJet had already cancelled 36 flights on Thursday affecting around 5,000 passengers.
Friday August 25 is expected to be one of the busiest days of the year for airports as it marks the start of the bank holiday weekend and final weekend of the school holidays for many families.
LBC presenter Sangita Myska found herself stranded in Edinburgh after her flight to London was cancelled on Thursday evening.
She wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “You cancelled our Edinburgh to London flight with 2 hours notice.
“This means an entire plane-load of people (inc a v frustrated elderly lady) are at the airport now stuck trying to find last minute hotel rooms during the busiest part of the year - when those rooms are at their most expensive.
“It means I may miss a medical appt, my partner will miss work, and other passengers are stuck. We’ll end up spending £66 on a taxis.”
Peter Mackie said his British Airways flight from Heathrow to Glasgow on Thursday evening was cancelled after a four-hour delay, and his flight re-booked for Friday was also cancelled.
A reduction in flying was imposed by Heathrow Airport on Thursday, limiting the number of aircraft which can safely take off and land per hour, applying to all airlines, the Standard understands.
British Airways said in a statement on Friday: “Like other airlines, due to adverse weather conditions experienced in the London area and across Europe, we’ve made some minor adjustments to our short-haul schedule.
“We’ve contacted affected customers to apologise and offer them rebooking options or a full refund.”
EasyJet apologised for the cancellations.
The airline said in a stateme: “Due to the impact of ATC restrictions across the network yesterday caused by adverse weather conditions across the UK and Europe which also resulted in the temporary suspension of operations at London Gatwick, some flights yesterday evening have been unable to operate as planned.
“We have been doing all possible to minimise the impact for our customers, providing those on cancelled flights with options to rebook or receive a refund as well as hotel accommodation and meals where required and we advise any customers who source their own that they will be reimbursed.
“Due to the knock on impact of yesterday’s weather and air traffic restrictions, we advise customers to check the status of their flight on our Flight Tracker www.easyjet.com/en/flight-tracker or via the app.”