Airport luggage meltdowns at Heathrow and Manchester already
Over the last week, there have been increasing reports of luggage taking a long time to arrive at Heathrow for arriving British Airways customers. Customers at Heathrow’s terminal 5 arriving on British Airways on Tuesday were told to prepare for an average of a 90-minute wait for luggage. Eventually, some customers were told that they could leave the airport and that luggage would be forwarded on to them.
This same situation happened to me in March when a similar issue occurred due to lack of baggage handlers. I was told I must leave the airport without my bags and claim to get them back. In fairness to BA, they did pay for some essentials and a new outfit since I was due to be attending an event in London the following lunchtime and it was not feasible to get home without spending a fortune on a 3-hour round trip in taxi since it was late at night. I got my bag back after 4 days with some intervention on my part. Others were not so lucky and wait nearly two weeks to get their luggage returned.
Today, Sunday 18th passengers at Terminal 5 were told that they would have to wait at least 2 hours when they arrived at Heathrow this evening. Travellers from Doha were told they would have to a further two hours, having already landed two hours previously.
Scenes in Terminal 5’s baggage hall were chaotic with bags piled up, and passengers sitting on abandoned luggage belts or lying on the floor as the wait for their bags dragged on interminably.
Those that decided to brave the lost baggage counter were in for a long wait with queues stretching past the barriers.
Meanwhile, the British Airways customer service desk appeared abandoned.
At around 10.30 pm passengers were told that British Airways would send luggage to their address and they could leave the airport. This will involve filing a claim with the luggage tracing system and could involve a significant wait to reunite customers with their bags. However, some travellers were lucky and after deciding to wait a little longer received their bags from a short-haul flight after only around an hour’s delay.
One has to wonder when the staff shortages will ever be resolved as we are now nearly a year since normal travel resumed and Heathrow again seems to be crumbling even before the final Christmas rush has begun. However, the fact that it is the last full weekend before Christmas and it was the World Cup could have the cynical wondering if there was higher than expected sickness today among staff.
At Manchester, there were also delays with baggage handling with Manchester Airport blaming Swissport for not supplying enough staff. Passengers were reporting that they had waited over 90 minutes to collect baggage. Manchester released this statement:
We flew back from Las Vegas with BA last week, landing on Thursday and baggage delivery was delayed a little but not too bad. What did shock me was on check in at LV the staff said the plane from LHR arrived with no luggage at all, how is that even possible!?
We always take a carry on onto the plane now to ensure we have essentials to tide us over if the main bag goes missing
Not heard of no luggage being loaded at all except when there is a strike or baggage system issue. Yes I think in the current situation it’s very wise to carry essentials in your hand luggage. I do the same too.
I write this from a very cold and windy Reykjavik, some small comfort that this phenomenon is not uniquely British. We arrived yesterday on EasyJet from Gatwick it was a clear day but, apparently, there had been a huge snowstorm Friday. After a 2 and a half hour flight we landed at 10:20 and finally got our bags at 12:45!!!
not sure that how is that any small comfort at all? small comfort is when my stuff arrives on time…
On 10th December during the world cup game, there was a 1 hour delay to get the plane to a stand and a 90 minute delay for luggage. I’m going to stop using Heathrow now we have a more reliable option via MAD or AMS.
AMS has some of the worst delays with departures. Not sure about luggage collection as it was a stopover for me and my luggage was transferred to my connecting flight without a problem but it wasn’t holiday time.
This happened 2 days prior on 16th December too when we flew back from Larnaca. I swore i wouldn’t check a bag in but on our last day the lovely therapist in the spa gave me complimentary pots of product and i wasn’t about to chuck them or leave them with security, so reluctantly checked a bag in. Same story as above.. about 2000 people in the baggage hall, then the announcement to just leave the terminal. An agent did confess that the baggage handlers’ shift finished at 10pm and they all went home. Next shift didn’t start till 3am (by now it was midnight) – It wasn’t a strike day so not sure if they were on a work to rule, but i fail to see how you can misplace a whole shift and even my bad maths tells me a shift ending at 10pm and a the next one starting at 3am was going to cause issues.
The ranting and frustration was palpable – TBH i was glad to leave. All of a sudden “everyone” had critical medication in their bags and THEY had to have them. Made no difference. Everyone told to leave the hall
There were people almost coming to blows at the helpdesks as the same people were issuing paper forms and collecting them, and of course they had 1000 questions on them and pax were filling them out AT the counter, holding the older 800 people up!.. I just left and filled out the claim online, and to be fair where its due, the bag was identified within a couple of hours, a notification text to say it would be delivered to my home 60 miles away, the next day. . AND IT WAS.. it must be costing the airlines millions!
^^ OTHER, not OLDER, lol
I have to wonder if there is a more systemic issue at work here. Had this happen back in October – over two hrs for luggage in T5. We saw other flights luggage come and go – but our flight and several others had the issue. Made baggage claim a veritable zoo, with piles of luggage from previous flights at one end of the area.
My son traveled back from a ski trip to Geneva on Saturday. Sat on tarmac for 1 hour 20 waiting for a stand and then another 1 hour 30 to get luggage. I will do anything to avoid Heathrow now. Was going to Cape Town in January from there but am now using Avios with Qatar to travel via Dublin to Cape Town. As others have said Heathrow is an embarrassment now and something needs to be done soon to change it.
Have just had a few days in Scotland took 2 hours to get our luggage in Edinburgh and on our return on Wednesday not much better at terminal 5.
Thank you for keeping us all up to date with worldwide travel you are my early morning read with a cup of tea every day
Thanks Linda. Glad to hear you are enjoying the articles.
What is the position if, faced with a long delay of over an hour, you just walk out? You can fill in the lost luggage claim form online and wait for delivery.
Usually they announce that this is an option. Personally, I wouldn’t try it without knowing they will definitely send it. There have been issues of luggage theft from the hall very occasionally so I’m not sure I’d want to chance my suitcase being left on the carousel.
Travelled from Paris to Bali a few weeks ago. We had to connect with KLM at Singapore. Our flight was late and we were rushed off the flight and taken straight to the connecting flight on arrival at Bali we went to the Baggage hall and when the bags started to come out there was an upside down tray -similar to those used at security- with a message telling passengers from the Air France flight their luggage did not make the flight. A visit to lost luggage was made and hotel details given. We were told the luggage would be o the next day’s flight and sent to our hotel. And our baggage duly arrived at our hotel the next night. Truly initiative used here is what is supposed to be a third world country. Third world maybe but first class service.
I’ve never understood why, whenever I fly out around 2-3pm, there’s often delays while waiting for new shifts of loaders and tug drivers to come on duty; then further delays because of the runway change. Is it not possible to have a more robust rolling shift change that keeps the operation flowing?
As for not having contingency plans to get bags off delayed inbound flights in the evening! Is there no incentive for loaders to stay on? Paying a good rate of overtime for two or three extra hours work must be more cost-effective, and better for a company’s reputation, than the trouble and expense involved when reuniting us with our baggage by courier.
I was at LHR T5 on this Saturday evening having flown in from GVA. That BA flight was delayed 50 minutes (although this had improved from an earlier predicted 90) due to earlier problems.
On landing, the flight crew were obliged to advise passengers there were no ground staff available to park the plane. This went on for 30 minutes before we were de boarded.
For those without biometric passport access (which included us as a family with a small child) the border queue was a further 40 minutes. Although this was a huge improvement against anyone with a non-UK passport, for whom there was only one desk available.
Despite these delays (which are actually no worse than found entering Geneva, where we’d waited, one hour for passport control on flying out), it was a further two hours before bags were delivered to the belt.
As noted, many others had given up before this occurred, and had filled out forms to have their bags forwarded
A trolley load of biscuits and caramel bars, plus some snickers did little to improve the mood of the waiting passengers.
After one hour of waiting, the situation did improve slightly in that there were regular and accurate updates, over announcements, advising waiting passengers, which aircraft were being unloaded and in what sequence.
Overall, another shocking indictment of the level of service to be expected and delivered by IAG.
My very best wishes to anybody flying in next weekend, when the official Border Force strike is on.
Today is almost as shambolic…BA905 delayed 90 minutes from FRA as there were allegedly no cleaners, then another half hour on the taxiway at Heathrow as there was no one to turn on the gate parking system, and so far it’s another 70 minutes and counting waiting for bags…I normally avoid checking bags, but a birthday present from a friend meant I could not carry on today.
SAS cancelled my flight from Stockholm to Dublin. Got the dreaded transfer through Heathrow with BA.
Everyone assured my baggage would go through. What a massive lie. Got to Heathrow, asked BA about my luggage, “oh it’s fine, we have it in the system, see?”.
Got to Dublin, of course the baggage didn’t get there. Fill out forms and so on. It’s been nearly 5 days, not heard a peep from BA.
All my Christmas gifts, my suit and other expensive clothing where inside.
Last Sunday our Ryanair flight from Dublin to Stansted was diverted to Manchester. We had a two hour wait on the tarmac in Dublin before we begin our fateful journey to Stansted. 20 minutes before landing at Stansted we started circling and then told we would be diverted. We spent a further one hour Waiting on the tarmac with the doors open in Manchester before we were taken by bus to the terminal. So we’re in the terminal at 11 pm and it wasn’t until 730am the following morning that our bags finally appeared on the carousel. Swissport was to blame for this situation. They did claim that 12 flights were diverted in and they didn’t have the staff. There were only six baggage handlers apparently covering all those aircraft. Of those six, two couldn’t cope with the stress and went home. Cheap airline = cheap (non-existent) service.
I just read a few comments and you guys are lucky, I had a flight connection in Heathrow on the 13th of Dec (I was supposed to have it on 11th) and I still know nothing about my luggage. Their phone does not work, the last update on the luggage was on the 16th…all the Christmas presents were there…the last time I chose BA and Heathrow.
I’m still waiting on luggage from December 10 (Terminal 5). My connection flight was canceled and I had a 24 hour delay, no bag, no hotel room, no staff available, no information…it’s been 14 days. Everywhere online I see luggage piles in Terminal 5. One of those is mine, unless someone already stole it after TWO WEEKS of BA not returning it. How is this not illegal?? I feel robbed.
Boarded a flight from Manchester to Heathrow and then to Japan. British Airways dis not load our luggage onto the plane at Manchester. Three days later we are in Japan its 3 degrees we have an 8 month old baby with us with none of her essential needs or clothes and us with just the clothes on our backs. British Airways say “we will pull out all the stops to get your luggage to you as quickly as possible”, if that was the case why wasnt it loaded on the many planes leaving Manchester for Heathrow after this event. Their tracking site states that they are still trying to locate the luggage this is 36 hours after the event. We know it is still in Manchester as it has an airtag in it.
Saved a lot for this holiday what are we supposed to do now
You are allowed to buy essentials and claim back from BA. If it’s cold that would include things like warm clothing or whatever is needed to continue your holiday as planned. Make sure you keep receipts. Also worth checking any other travel insurance policies you may have like Amex. Details are here https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/baggage-essentials/lost-and-damaged-baggage/making-baggage-claims. Other than that there is nothing you can do but wait. They have a huge backlog of luggage so I’d assume it could take a few days. It’s no help now but there have been issues all year with luggage so I’d highly advise anyone travelling to either go hand baggage only or carry a few days worth of items in your hand luggage.
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