BRITISH Airways is investigating a large scale data breach which has seen customers personal and financial details stolen.
The nearly two week long hack did not involve travel or passport details, the airline said, adding that it had launched an urgent investigation into the theft of customer data.
BA Chairman and Chief Executive Alex Cruz said in London the airline discovered on September 5 that bookings made between August 21 and September 5 had been infiltrated in a "very sophisticated, malicious criminal" attack.
Some angry travelers complained to Britain's Press Association that they had already noted bogus activity on credit cards that had been used to make British Airways bookings during the time when the breach was undetected.
Cruz said the British Airways informed customers affected by the attack on Thursday and advised them to contact their bank or credit card provider and follow their recommended advice. It had notified police and relevant authorities. "We take the protection of our customers' data very seriously".
Mr. Cruz said anyone who lost out financially would be compensated by the airline. The airline said it would manage any claims on an individual basis.
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She tweeted: "My bank... are experiencing extremely high call volumes due to this breach!" It is now vital that the company moves quickly to ensure those affected get clear information about what has happened and what steps they should take to protect themselves.
A spokesman for the ICO said it would be "making inquiries" into the British Airways hack.
The incident comes after an IT meltdown caused huge disruption for BA passengers at the start of the May half-term holiday.
British Airways experienced an IT-related crisis in May a year ago when roughly 75,000 passengers were stranded after the airline cancelled more than 700 flights over three days because of system problems.
Consumer advice website MoneySavingExpert says customers should monitor bank and credit card statements closely for signs of possible fraudulent activity.
Around 380,000 payment cards were compromised.