Page last updated at 21:04 GMT, Thursday, 14 August 2008 22:04 UK

Heathrow chaos as computers crash

Passengers waiting at Heathrow's Terminal 3 - picture by Osman Salih
Passenger were unable to board flights because of computer problems

A flight was cancelled and thousands of passengers faced delays after a computer glitch caused major disruption at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 3.

People were prevented from entering the terminal as computer screens across the building went blank.

The problem affected the baggage system and check-in and the airport's operator, BAA, warned luggage may have been put on the wrong flights.

An airport spokesman said BAA was "working hard to resolve the issue".

Passengers were advised to contact their airline before travelling.

Those prevented from entering Terminal 3, which serves mainly long-haul flights, on Thursday evening were given water and seating outside the building.

Everything was chaotic and there was a swarm of people outside
Osman Salih

Osman Salih, who was taking a relative to the airport to catch a flight, told BBC News: "They would not let us in to the airport without a boarding pass but there was nowhere outside to get one.

"We had to sneak in. It was all a mess.

"We had to check in over the phone because the computer systems were down.

"Everything was chaotic. The escalators and parking meters were down and there was a swarm of people outside."

A BAA spokesman said: "A computer problem is affecting Terminal 3's baggage system, which, in turn, is having an impact on check-in.

"Passengers are being checked in, however the process is slower than normal, which means that some flights are delayed and some will be cancelled.

"We are sorry for the obvious inconvenience to passengers and airlines."

The airport was branded a "national humiliation" when the launch of Terminal 5 in March caused chaos.

Flights move to T5 after delays
05 Jun 08 |  London

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