- Video report by ITV News Correspondent Ria Chatterjee
British Airways has apologised after an "email error" meant some passengers were wrongly told their flights were cancelled following the announcement that pilots will strike for three days next month.
Weddings, honeymoons and holidays of a lifetime have been thrown into doubt by the walkouts, which will see a raft of flights cancelled on September 9, 10 and 27.
But it has now emerged that some passengers - the exact number has not yet been confirmed - were wrongly told their flight would be cancelled and they were advised to rebook.
A spokesman for airline said: "We are sorry that some customers received an email in error to say that their flight had been cancelled on non-strike days. We are getting in touch with all those customers this afternoon to clarify that their flight will go ahead as planned.
"We are sorry for any confusion and inconvenience this has caused." He said anyone who went on to spend money on alternative arrangements should contact British Airways "and we will deal with each case on an individual basis".
The spokesman clarified that some flights on non-strike days will be affected, but that the bulk of those cancelled are on the three strike days.
Swathes of passengers on flights which will be grounded tried in vain to contact the airline to make alternative arrangements on Saturday.
The company’s Twitter feed was also inundated with messages from frustrated customers, with some complaining they would miss weddings and honeymoons.
A company statement said: “It is completely unacceptable that Balpa is destroying the plans of tens of thousands of our customers with this unjustifiable strike action.”
Balpa said 93% of members voted in favour of the action after rejecting a pay rise package of 11.5% over three years.
“A day of strike action will cost BA around £40 million,” it said. “Three days will cost in the region of £120 million.
“The gap between BA’s position and Balpa’s position is about £5 million.
“Our proposal remains on the table should BA wish to reach agreement prior to strike action.”
Peter Dempsey, 41, said his family could be forced to pay hundreds of pounds for alternative flights for a family wedding in Seville, southern Spain.
“It’s the return that has completely screwed us up as we are flying back with our in-laws and we cannot move the dates,” said Mr Dempsey, who flies out on September 5 for his wife’s cousin’s wedding.
“We have no option but to completely cancel both legs and rebook or they won’t give a refund.”
He said himself and three others were booked on the return journey, on September 9, adding: “I’d estimate we will be about £200 out of pocket.
“Not a massive amount but not everyone has that kind of money. God knows what it is costing others who have flights to America etc.”
He said they spent £550 on their flights but to return on easyJet would cost £330, or to rebook with Ryanair roughly £200.
Mr Dempsey described the service since the announcement as “shocking”, adding BA “clearly don’t have enough people to handle such a crisis”.
Other flyers complained about a four-week wait for refunds and said bookings on their flights were still listed for sale online.
Scott Kishere, a filmmaker and police community officer, told PA: "My wife and I have been told that our flight to Toronto has been cancelled.
"This was a full package we booked through BA for our 10-year wedding anniversary. I have made over 100 attempts to contact them for a refund and they're not answering.
"Until we get a refund we do not have the money to rebook our trip of a lifetime.
"With the days counting down it now looks unlikely we will be able to celebrate our 10-year anniversary as expected."
Mr Kishere, from Dorset, is one of hundreds of passengers who have tried desperately to contact BA on social media and its phone lines.
He said he also plans to travel to Chicago, for the city's marathon, with his partner one week after the final day of strikes, but fears that could also be impacted.
"We have worked so hard for these trips and BA do not have the decency or customer care to support us.
"For them this has been on the cards for a long time and I cannot believe they didn't have a contingency in place."
The airline’s statement added: “We will do everything we can to get as many people away on their journeys as possible.
“However, it is likely that many of our customers will not be able to travel and we will be offering refunds and re-bookings for passengers book on cancelled flights.”
The company's phoneline on Saturday morning offered a message saying they were receiving a high number of calls and asked customers to re-book online.
It said flights with BA CityFlyer, Sun-Air and Comair were not affected and it was “exploring options to supplement our fleet by using aircraft and crew from other airlines”.
BA will also work with its partner airlines to schedule larger aircraft.
Chief executive Alex Cruz said the pilots had been offered an “incredible, inflation-busting deal” which would take a captain’s pay to over £200,000 a year and they had been “very badly served” by their union.
Bapla said: “Over recent years BA pilots have made sacrifice after sacrifice to assist the company such as taking a pay cut, productivity increases, closing the final salary pension scheme, giving up annual leave days, a new rostering system, and reducing flying pay.
“In what is British Airways’ centenary year, this will be the very first time its pilots will go on strike. They do so as a last resort and with enormous frustration at the way the business is now being run.
“Our ballot is valid until January, and more dates may be announced until such time as this matter is resolved.”