A failure in software used by many airlines to check-in passengers caused delays to tens of thousands of passengers at airports around the world yesterday.
Queues developed at Heathrow and Gatwick when a computer system used by about 125 airlines failed in the morning.
The Amadeus Altéa system used by British Airways, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa is believed to have crashed for about 15 minutes, causing knock-on delays for hours.
Airport check-in desks around the world were affected, ranging from Paris Charles de Gaulle and Zurich to Washington DC, Singapore and Melbourne.
A Heathrow spokesman said that a small number of airlines experienced issues with check-in systems at airports around the world, including at the London hub.
Amadeus said the incident happened about 10.30am. It is believed that all systems were back to normal by 2.30pm, although Gatwick described the situation as a “momentary IT glitch” and said it did not cause flight delays and there was no major disruption.
An Amadeus spokeswoman denied that the incident was linked to a cyber attack.
She said that the chaos was caused by a faulty switch during maintenance of the system.
“The incident was related to our internal infrastructure,” she said. “As a result of the incident, customers experienced disruption to certain services.
“Amadeus technical teams took immediate action to identify the cause of the issue and mitigate against the impact on customers. Amadeus regrets any inconvenience caused.”