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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Airlines losing millions of bags a year

It's a big problem. The following article is taken from the Daily Telegraph, and highlights the massive problem of lost baggage.

More travellers than ever are arriving on holiday without their luggage, with up to 10 air passengers losing their bags on every flight, figures showed last night.
British Airways was nominated the worst performing of all Europe's major airlines and is forecast to lose a record 1.3 million bags this year.

One in every 35 passengers on BA flights lost luggage between April and June and a continued baggage crisis at Heathrow is expected to exacerbate the problem throughout the summer peak.
Such is the scale of the problem that travellers were yesterday advised to avoid checking in bags altogether and take hand luggage instead.
In addition, the figures, compiled by the Association of European Airlines (AEA), showed that BA passengers were the most likely to be delayed.
In the three months to June, 44 per cent of BA's long-haul flights and 36 per cent of its short-haul trips arrived more than 15 minutes late.
The misery is mostly confined to BA passengers, with other airlines, including Lufthansa and Air France, performing better. No-frills carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet were not included in the report.
The statistics were released as BA was fined almost £270 million for price fixing, after it admitted "collusion" with Virgin Atlantic over fuel surcharges. Two fines were issued by regulators on both sides of the Atlantic and the carrier now faces the threat of a wave of passenger compensation claims.
Meanwhile, BAA, the Heathrow operator, launched a High Court case in an attempt to prevent a major protest at the airport.
Senior officials admit that Heathrow and BA are going through a "difficult" time. Simon Evans, the chairman of the Air Transport Users Council (AUC), said things were unlikely to improve until Terminal 5 opens next March.
"British Airways is in a bit of a mess at the moment," he said. "Until Terminal 5 opens travellers are advised to take hand luggage where possible, or ensure identification is left within their suitcase."
"There is no doubt that Heathrow is a big part of the problem. Questions have to be asked of BA's management which is squeezing too much out of the airport and those crowded terminals."
Andrew Dodgson, a spokesman for the Transport and General Workers' Union, said staff reductions were a major cause of the baggage crisis.
"We have warned BA on countless occasions that they do not have the baggage staff to cope should anything go wrong," he said. "The airport is working at full capacity so even when a small thing goes wrong, it has a major impact.
"BA has also decided to take people out for training on the new Terminal 5 systems at a remarkably difficult time. We believe that too many airport staff have been let go too soon and the ground operation has not been managed well."
The AEA figures for the second quarter this year showed that on every BA Boeing 747 flight carrying 350 passengers, the equivalent of 10 would not find their bags on the carousel. At that rate BA will lose about 1.3 million bags this year.
Air France and Lufthansa, which both carried three million more passengers than BA during this period, performed significantly better, with one in 62 passengers losing bags.
The AEA maintains that, on average, 85 per cent of the bags that go missing are traced and delivered to passengers within 48 hours.
"The majority of people may get their luggage back, but that still leaves around a million passengers each year without their luggage for up to two days," said Mr Evans. "It also leaves another 250,000 without their luggage for possibly much longer."
A BA spokesman admitted the airline's performance was not acceptable. "Our baggage performance has not been good enough. Improving this is a top priority." He said that unlike Amsterdam Schiphol and Charles De Gaulle (the hubs for KLM and Air France), which operate at 80 per cent capacity, Heathrow was performing at its maximum, leaving no leeway should things go wrong.
BA attributes some of the problems to a Government restriction of only one piece of hand luggage on flights to and from Britain. Other European carriers still allow two.
Willie Walsh, the chief executive of BA, and other airline chiefs met Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary, last week in an attempt to have this overturned. BA claims the restrictions mean 23,000 bags a day go through a system designed for 18,000. It has admitted a backlog of 20,000 bags but baggage workers claim it is closer to 40,000.
BA has drafted in volunteers from Gatwick and its head office to help clear the backlog and luggage has been sent to Milan to be sorted.
Passengers have trouble contacting BA's baggage retrieval line. Readers of The Daily Telegraph complain of emails going unanswered and misleading baggage tracking information. 

You can help reduce the risk of losing your luggage, by having personalised baggage labels on both the inside and outside of your luggage. 
Personalise your own baggage labels at Crewtags.aero

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