British Airways (BA) experienced another public relations fiasco over the weekend, after thousands of passengers were wrongly told their flights had been canceled.

The debacle occurred following the Aug. 23 announcement by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) that it plans to strike in pursuit of a pay claim on Sept. 9, 10 and 27.

BA immediately said it would offer refunds and rebookings for passengers booked on flights canceled as a result of the strikes.

Within 24 hours, however, the UK media was filled with reports from irate passengers who had booked replacement flights with other airlines after receiving emails from BA that their flights had been canceled on nonstrike days … only to receive another email hours later informing them their original flights would go ahead.

Passengers said they had struggled to contact BA via email or telephone to seek clarity on the problem.

According to the BBC Aug. 26, thousands of passengers complained of being unable to contact BA customer services as the airline attempted to work through a backlog of 40,000 calls.

The latest public relations problem—ironically on the weekend the airline marked its 100th anniversary—came just two weeks after a major IT outage at the airline left thousands of passengers delayed or facing cancellations at the height of the European holiday season.

The carrier has experienced several major IT failures in the past few years and is appealing a record £183 million ($224 million) fine by the UK’s data regulator after a hack compromised the personal details of an estimated 500,000 customers.

BA customer service staff were left picking up the pieces following the latest IT problem. “We are sorry that some customers received an email in error to say that their flight had been canceled on nonstrike days,” a BA spokeswoman Aug. 26 said. “We emailed all those customers within a few hours to clarify that their flight will go ahead as planned.

“We are sorry for any confusion and inconvenience this has caused. We would encourage anyone who has incurred any expenses as a direct result to get in touch, and we will deal with each case on an individual basis.”

Alan Dron