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British Airways apologizes as flight delays leave travelers stuck on ground

British Airways flights from the United States were delayed late Monday and early Tuesday. (John Tlumacki/Boston Globe/AP)
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British Airways apologized after flights from the United States were delayed late Monday by a technical issue, leaving countless travelers stuck in airports for hours.

As the clock ticked past midnight on Tuesday morning, British Airways’ Twitter team was busy writing apologetic messages to disgruntled passengers, repeatedly citing a “third-party flight planning supplier” as the root of the problem.

British Airways said in a statement later Tuesday that “our teams have now resolved a temporary issue that affected some of our long-haul flight planning systems overnight, which resulted in delays to our schedule.”

Customer complaints had been appearing from destinations across the United States, including New York, Boston, Denver and Dallas. The delays hit just at the beginning of the peak Christmas travel period. About 1 a.m., aviation firm Flightradar24 reported that only about 50 percent of scheduled flights were in the air but that “flights across the system” were departing.

British Airways offered refreshments to some passengers on the ground, while online staff offered banter. One representative on Twitter, “Kit,” responded to a stranded customer nursing a glass of wine: “That sounds like the best way to deal with a delay, Chris. Have a good flight, and stay safe.”

It was far from the first time British Airways faced customers’ ire over social media. On Dec. 16, singer Katherine Jenkins complained about the airline losing her luggage — including an outfit meant for a performance for the pope — in a tweet that was liked more than 10,000 times.

Victoria Bisset in London contributed to this report.