British Airways is among the airlines which cancelled US flights over fears the 5G rollout could impact navigation systems onboard some incoming planes.
The action is in response to fears that the activation of the C-band strand of the mobile phone service near American airports on Wednesday could disrupt planes' navigation systems.
Boeing 777s are thought to be particularly at risk of being affected.
The rollout has gone ahead with 4,500 towers across the country but 500 towers that are near 88 unspecified airports are not being turned on due to fears the frequencies they emit could interfere with aircraft radar technology.
The pause on those towers was only decided yesterday afternoon - by which point some international airlines had cancelled flights using Boeing 777 aircraft.
The introduction of the technology has been halted in some parts of the US but is going ahead elsewhere.
The issue has caused travel chaos at airports with cancelations, staff shortages and a lack of the right planes in the right place at the right time leading to mass disruption.
British Airways cancelled a handful of flights from Heathrow to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco on Wednesday.
The airline said in a statement: 'Safety is always our priority and although we had to cancel a handful of services, we’ve done everything we can to minimise inconvenience for our customers. We’ve changed the aircraft operating some of our flights and rebooked those on cancelled services onto alternatives.
'We’re disappointed that, like other airlines, some of our customers' travel plans have been disrupted.'
The carrier said some flights due to be operated by Boeing 777s are using different, larger aircraft such as the Airbus A380 to ensure people can still fly on the same day they booked.
Other airlines have made many more cancellations.
Emirates suspended all its flights to nine US airports on Wednesday 'until further notice'.
The Dubai-based carrier told customers the measure was 'due to operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the US at certain airports'.
It added: 'Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused. We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our US services as soon as possible.'
Other airlines to cancel flights include Air India, Japan-based ANA, Japan Airlines, and Korean Air.
Virgin Atlantic, which does not operate Boeing 777s, said it has not made any cancellations or aircraft type changes.
The concern over 5G in the US relates to its potential effect on aircraft altimeters, which measure altitude.
This does not have an impact on UK airports because the US uses a different frequency for 5G.
It comes as sources told Reuters that US network provider Verizon said it will temporarily not turn on about 500 towers near airports while the carriers and the US Government work on a permanent solution.
But details of the agreement, including the length of the pause for the rollout and a solution, were not disclosed.
Passengers and airlines are bracing for further delays and cancellations as the travel chaos shows no sign of stopping.
Scores of people have now been left stranded at airports, with many complaining on social media about their flights being cancelled due to the 5G rollout.
One passenger, identified as Siddhartha on Twitter, complained that he and other passengers were 'not happy' that their Air India flight from Delhi to San Francisco had been cancelled.
Travelers were seen crowded together at Indira Gandhi International Airport as they waited for more news.
Another passenger, identified as Kausi on Twitter, was left frustrated after they were told their Emirates flight to Chicago had been cancelled as soon as she landed in Dubai.
Kausi complained that she and other passengers were not left 'stuck' in airports.
A major issue for airlines has been their use of the Boeing 777 model, a long-range, wide-body aircraft, which is said to be particularly affected by the 5G signals.
It has prompted cancellations and a mad dash to change the aircrafts.
British Airways opted to switch aircraft on its daily flight to Los Angeles and will now use an Airbus A380, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Germany's Lufthansa also swapped out one kind of 747 for another on some US-bound flights.
Source: Daily Mail
BDST: 1807 HRS, JAN 20, 2022