Airport baggage firms’ communication with passengers lost in transit along with their suitcases – Alastair Dalton

Passengers’ major concern about the staff shortage nightmare that has plagued air travel used to be: will my flight be cancelled?

But for those arriving at Edinburgh Airport, it’s now: will my bags turn up?

In the past, most fliers are likely to have experienced that nervous anticipation while waiting at the baggage carousel, wondering whether their luggage would make an appearance, brushing past those flappy hanging bits of plastic from the loading bay.

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Many, like me, will on occasion have waited in vain, before filling in a form and leaving the airport bereft of possessions.

Hundreds of mislaid bags are awaiting collection at Edinburgh Airport (Picture: Fraser Mackenzie)Hundreds of mislaid bags are awaiting collection at Edinburgh Airport (Picture: Fraser Mackenzie)
Hundreds of mislaid bags are awaiting collection at Edinburgh Airport (Picture: Fraser Mackenzie)

But in my case at least, I was always confident my bag was just delayed, not lost, and it would be returned to me within a day or two – and it was.

That’s how it used to be, but in the post-pandemic aviation world, the situation has become altogether grimmer.

Due to the acute shortage of staff in many parts of the industry, there are simply not enough people to shift baggage onto and off aircraft.

I’m told this has particularly affected the unloading of bags, especially towards the end of the day when a plane has completed its last flight so there is less urgency to get it cleared promptly.

Passengers flying through hub airports such as Amsterdam and Heathrow, where their baggage is transferred between flights, have fallen victim to delays there too.

The upshot has been that luggage has arrived in too late for their owners to collect after stepping off their flights in Edinburgh, and to a lesser extent Glasgow.

Hundreds of suitcases are now awaiting collection, both in baggage reclaim areas – where they have become a familiar, forlorn sight – and in nearby warehouses.

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Being without your essentials can be bad enough, but imagine the anguish of visitors to Scotland who had carefully selected everything they needed for their trip only for their bag to disappear, and be left with only whatever they’d put in their hand luggage.

A University of St Andrews professor spoke of his shock at seeing this when he returned to Edinburgh Airport in an attempt to locate his baggage, days after flying in.

He told The Scotsman of “queues of distraught tourists waiting in vain for hours” at an unstaffed baggage office, a Korean man coming in every day in the hope of getting his bags, and a Swiss couple returning home after spending their entire Scottish holiday without their luggage.

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There have been plenty of similar tales, from both residents and visitors alike.

The common denominator has been the lack of information. No one on hand to answer questions, explain the problem or provide advice. Phone calls, emails, social media posts, all left unanswered.

But I would hazard a guess that if the handling agents at the heart of the chaos, who are contracted by airlines to move baggage, allocated some of their scarce resources to make some attempt to keep people informed about what had happened and why, passenger anger would be significantly reduced.

Passengers take a copy of their baggage tag barcodes at check-in or bag drop. Could that not be used to tell them immediately where their missing luggage is?

A far greater focus on customers is required because the perception is they are being ignored.



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