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: