"I think whilst people are obviously deeply upset about the inconvenience, particularly at this time of year, of having their travel plans disrupted, most of what I am hearing is a sense of outrage about the way they were then treated when they were stranded at Heathrow airport."
I was stuck in Brussels Airport for almost a day and the communication by just about everybody there was as non existent as it sounds like it's been at Heathrow.
I think part of the reason for that was that the people in charge didn't know what was happening and part of it was because they didn't want to give people bad news.
I've noticed the same type of thing happen in organisations when there there's something bad to be communicated or an unpopular decision has been made and needs to be explained.
Often in this situation there will be no further communication because it's assumed that people won't react well to that communication.
I don't think that's actually an accurate assumption and in addition not communicating is actually quite a dangerous thing to do because it then puts people in the position that they will now guess why certain things are being done.
More often than not those guesses will be more damning of people in leadership positions than they deserve.
Whenever I've seen someone in a leadership position explain what's actually going on (and the thinking behind it) the response of the people receiving the message has always been much more reasonable than they expect it to be.
I think the people in charge of communicating what was going on in the airports would have had similar results if they'd only communicated something!