Thousands of travelers arrived at London Heathrow Airport over the weekend to find their luggage had been delayed. There are several reports of passengers waiting over twelve hours to receive their baggage. The main reported cause is a current staff shortage, indicating that there are not enough employees needed to transfer baggage efficiently.
A test of patience
Multiple reports of individuals and families waiting over twelve hours to receive their luggage have been reported. Many people chose to simply leave after waiting for hours. When the baggage of passengers who had already departed finally arrived at the carousel, the bags began to pile up again with no one to retrieve them.
A SkyNews affiliate shared her experience leaving Terminal 2 over the weekend. She stated,
“The warning signs that all was not well were clear when retrieving baggage. There were clusters of suitcases with no owners huddled around various conveyor belts. I wondered where the owners were.”
Delays in baggage distribution resulted in what is now known as a “baggage mountain”. This so-called mountain is made up of countless rows forming a giant cluster containing hundreds of bags. This would be the result of a faulty system at terminal two.
This mountain would have been eradicated. This was made possible by the hard work of the baggage workers throughout the day on Sunday. Any baggage that was not directly deliverable to passengers at the airport was loaded onto vehicles for delivery to passengers’ homes.
On Monday June 20, Heathrow Airport asked airlines operating from Terminals Two and Three to cancel up to ten percent of all flights scheduled for the day. It is estimated that this would directly affect up to 90 flights, putting a damper on travel plans for more than 15,000 passengers.
The airport said the cause of the request was difficulties with baggage handling. It is currently unknown how many flight plans will be changed at Heathrow throughout the day. Nonetheless, it manages to illustrate the interconnected nature of the industry. Ground delays, even within the airport, can have catastrophic consequences on all other aspects of air travel.
The airline industry has been grappling with staff shortages around the world since the decline of the pandemic allowed air travel to resume. Baggage handlers, like many others employed by this industry, are no exception. London Heathrow is feeling the dramatic effects of this shortage.
Without enough staff to move luggage, it manages to pile up in places where passengers cannot access their luggage. The employees present at the time were working as fast as they could. Either way, hundreds of people would be gathered in droves at any time waiting for their luggage. In addition, numerous reports have been published indicating that the delays are due to technical difficulties.
The airport issued a statement citing that the root cause of the delays was with the airlines, not the airport. An airport spokeswoman said:
“It is the airlines that transport your baggage from the plane to the baggage claim area, as they either employ their staff on the ground or outsource this process to a third-party company.”
The aviation industry is complex. With countless moving parts that all depend on each other. Due to a lack of staff and various technical difficulties, thousands of passengers were stranded for hours waiting for their luggage to arrive over the weekend. These delays continue to plague the airport into the new working week.
How long did you have to wait the longest for your luggage? Let us know in the comments below.
Source: SkyNews, The Independent