Home > Case study: British Airways technical failure

British Airways suffered a major IT failure on the last weekend of February 2022, causing flights to be cancelled and leaving passengers stranded all over the world. The airline’s website and app were inaccessible for some hours on Friday evening, preventing customers from checking in online or booking flights. Travel Places' clients, from Formula 1 and Sky, had flown out to Barcelona to take part in the 2022 pre-season track session. The 3-day event concluded on Friday 25th, with a 300+ travelling group due to return home to the UK over the following days.

The numbers:

200

Saturday passengers

112

Sunday passengers

2

Days

The Challenge

The first chartered flight on Friday evening was planned and received without any disruption. With a higher probability of flight disruptions caused by the weather at this time of year, the Travel Places' teams were constantly monitoring flight statuses, ensuring any disruption could be communicated to clients immediately. Around 4:30am on Saturday morning, a member of our team became aware of mass cancellations on BA flights for the upcoming day.

As team travel specialists, we are used to dealing with high-stress environments, approaching any unexpected events with a calm and composed manner. With 300+ F1 team employees, support staff, and media personnel in Barcelona, unaware of the last-minute changes to their upcoming day/weekend, our expertise was essential.

"The Travel Places teams on the ground in Barcelona and back in the UK worked tirelessly through the weekend to ensure any disruption to our clients was kept to a minimum, acting quickly and effectively despite being under intense pressure. Our clients from Formula 1 and Sky understood the challenges we were facing and were extremely grateful to the team for the transparent nature in which they dealt with the disruption. "

Matt Parkhouse | F1 Flights Supervisor

Our Approach

Our Team in Barcelona immediately notified all passengers of the issues, ensuring they were kept informed of any further developments as the day went on. WhatsApp chats were set up for each customer group and used as the primary form of contact due to the ease and likelihood of messages being received and reviewed instantly.

Travel Places has a great relationship with our charter broker Volanteus. This ensured we were a priority when attempting to secure a new chartered plane. With the possibility of a plane repositioned from Madrid to Barcelona being declined by the UK aviation authority, we worked quickly with Volanteus to secure another standby aircraft and crew. This charter was ready and had departed from the UK en route to Barcelona in less than two hours after initial contact, which significantly minimised the inconvenience caused by the disruption.

The flight cancellations would provide their own logistical challenges to our team. New passenger locator forms, with new flight numbers, passport details and updated arrival airport all needed to be accounted for. To further reduce the delay, all passengers were sent a template form via Whatsapp, where they could update the required information for our team to communicate with the charter broker/airline. In addition to this, a staggered check-in approach was adopted by Barcelona airport, with only one hour allowance granted to check-in prior to the flight departure. This was a particular challenge to achieve for 200 people, with the terminals at Barcelona’s El Prat Airport located 4km apart.

The charter flight safely landed in the UK on Saturday evening, but Sunday provided its own challenges, with 112 passengers still needing to return home. The clients had been due to travel on a direct BA flight on Sunday morning which was only cancelled at the last minute. Our flights team back in the UK used their experience and expertise to secure an indirect route via Lisbon, which landed back in the UK shortly after the original arrival.

The Result

With over 45 years’ experience in managing the complex and dynamic requirements of large-scale events, we understand the value of partnerships. Our close relationship with charter broker Volanteus proved pivotal on this occasion. Despite the unplanned and sudden nature of the technical outage, the Travel Places' team managed to work effectively under intense pressure and time constraints to ensure our clients arrived home safely and with minimal disruption.

Our Team

The team consisted of members of our flights and F1 teams. Matt, Helen, Alex, Rosie and Jade worked tirelessly throughout the weekend, with Gary on the ground in Barcelona ensuring Travel Places were able to communicate any changes with the passengers instantly.

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