British Airways – UK

Following entry is a record in the “Catalogue of Catastrophe” – a list of failed and troubled projects from around the world.

British Airways PLC. / British Airports Authority
Project :
Move of operations into Heathrow Terminal 5
Date : Apr 2008 Cost :$32M USD

Synopsis :
Opening of Heathrow Terminal 5 labeled a fiasco after 28,000 bags get lost and hundreds of flights are cancelled.  Problems resulted in British Airways having to cease accepting passengers with bags to check-in while a backlog of thousands of passengers built up in the terminal.  Problems persisted for more than a week drawing attention of the media from around the world.  Top British Airways executives forced to resign following the debacle and CEO Willie Walsh summed up events with the phrase “not our finest hour”

Contributing factors as reported in the press :
Lack of staff training, poor staff morale resulting in failure to secure enough staff to effectively manage problems as they arose, programming errors in the baggage system, failure to test the system with realistic loads.

Related story :
Read a full case study covering the saga of Denver International Airport`s baggage handling system.

Reference links :

  1. 28,000 bags caught in T5 foul-up
  2. T5 chaos ‘not BA’s finest hour’
  3. What went wrong at Heathrow’s Terminal 5?
  4. The BA Terminal 5 song (very funny)
  5. BBC News video