Chaos at the Terminals

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Airports generate like clockwork, everything has a set time for arrival, boarding and departure, making it an incredibly efficient operation. However, when there is a computer glitch, it becomes pure chaos and sometimes it can even bring continents to a standstill.

Control centre problems

Last year, many airports across the country were left in chaos after the control centre in Swanwick was hit by a computer glitch. This small problem left 100,000 stranded as most flights were cancelled or delayed; the problem made this the most disruptive incident since the volcanic ash cloud in 2010. The worst affected airport was Heathrow who had a staggering 225 flights cancelled and left many customers questioning how they would be going on their travels.

The problem that caused all of this dismay was because the computer was unable to change from night time mode, which only has a few flights to deal with, to day time where there are many more flights and the workload is much larger. This led to the cancellations as the computer wasn’t aware that the flights were even taking place and travellers had to take to the hotels near Heathrow until their flights were rearranged. This was little consolation to many of the stranded passengers who were travelling for personal business such as a couple attending their honey moon were severely delayed, a group of ill children travelling to Lapland had their flight cancelled and a woman was delayed in trying to get to her dying mother’s bedside.

In July 2013, another computer problem at the control centre caused even more passengers to be left at the airports. Airlines proceeded to demand that the matter was looked into thoroughly and a plan was put into place to combat anymore problems that may arise. The engineers investigated the matter, which occurred after a routine maintenance, for fourteen hours before they were able to fix it.

Biggest aviation problem of 2014

In October 2014, Heathrow was once again brought to a standstill thanks to a massive crash in their system. Planes were unable to travel to their designated gates to unload, many remained on the tarmac, unable to depart from Heathrow and inside the airport, the baggage system was out of order, leaving thousands of customers without their luggage.

British Airways appeared to come off worse in this horrific situation as many of their flights departed from the airport without their travellers’ luggage! This led to an uproar from the passengers who were on the flights and many inside the airport; some customers took to social media to convey their feelings on the situation. Some saw the humour amongst all the confusion, with one lady stating that she will have to restock her luggage in New York, whereas others were far from happy, especially the gentleman who was stranded in Hong Kong after missing his connecting flight and then finding out that his luggage hadn’t left Britain.

Heathrow released a report stating that their systems were up and running relatively quickly after the initial incident and it was all due to a telephone glitch in Terminal 1. Even though the chaos was downplayed by the airport, pilots were commenting that this issue was a “big problem,” one that could affect the whole of Britain, while passengers were still tweeting as late as 1am the following morning stating that they were still stranded on the tarmac of the airport.

Heathrow is the busiest airport in the world and with over 200,000 passengers passing through its doors and 1,400 aircrafts flying from its runway every day, it is little wonder how one small telephone wire had such a huge impact on the airport and its patrons.

What to do if you get caught up in the madness

If your travel plans get thwarted due to unexpected computer issues, the first thing to do is to book yourself into one of the hotels near Heathrow. By doing this, you will be guaranteed a room and avoid the traffic of stranded passengers that will inevitably charge their way to the hotels. Heathrow has a large range of hotels situated in its vicinity, ranging from a simple stop gap hotel to 5* accommodation with a pool and spa for a complete relaxation experience. Here is a small selection for you to choose from, but remember to get in quick:-

Near terminals 1,2 and 3 is the Holiday Inn Heathrow which is minutes away. It is a typical Holiday Inn that provides the basic accommodation as a stop gap for travellers. Terminals 4 and 5, due to being a little further away, have their own set of hotels that connect to the airport; these are the Hilton London Heathrow in Terminal 4 and the 4* Sofitel hotel at Terminal 5 which offers a spa, a hair salon, two restaurants and bars. These hotels are luxurious and the perfect places to stay if you wanted to pamper and relax after your trying day. All of these hotels are accessible via shuttle bus transport but if you wanted hotels in the vicinity of your terminal then these are the ones for you.

 If you decide that you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the airport, book a stay at the Park Grand London Heathrow hotel. A 5 mile bus ride can see you at this brand new hotel, packed full of the amenities needed to make sure your stay is as comfortable as possible, as well as being one of the quietest hotels in the area.

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