Software upgrade crashes Heathrow’s luggage system

LONDON — Leave your luggage behind, British Airways told travellers Wednesday morning after a software upgrade crashed baggage handling systems at Heathrow Airport.

The failure affected thousands of passengers at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 4 (T4).

Thousands of long haul travellers travelling with British Airways have been asked to travel without luggage if they are flying from Heathrow Airport’s T4 Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the airport operator BAA told Computerworld UK that a computer software upgrade, conducted Monday night, was the cause of the failure. Despite testing the software, the “glitch crashed both baggage sorting machines at lunch time yesterday, 19 February.”

The terminal has two sorting machines for built-in redundancy in case of system failure. However, the upgrade managed to bring down both machines.

BAA said it had technicians working all night to try to identify and then fix the problem. The system is currently running, however BAA is continuing to test the system to restore it to its full capacity before carriers can use it again.

Along with BA, the baggage handling failure is affecting Qantas, KLM, Air Kenya and SN Brussels.

Smaller carriers are manually sorting baggage. However BA, which relies heavily on the sorting machines system, admitted the failure “had an impact on its business operation.”

In a statement on its website, British Airways said long-haul passengers in economy or premier economy and transfer passengers “should not bring luggage to be checked in.” Instead, these passengers should only bring up to two pieces of hand luggage.

BA’s affected passengers are also eligible for a refund, can re-book to a different destination or travel on a later date.

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