How not to lose your plane luggage in the middle of “airmageddon”

Air travel is facing a new crisis of delays, cancellations and lost or delayed baggage, prompting Emirates to call the situation “airmageddon”. The reason: a severe shortage of personnel in airlines and airports. What do you need to know before packing your bags? mint explains

What problems do travelers face?

Many travelers are taking international trips for the first time after being cooped up at home for more than two years. But their summer vacation experience is marred by the fear, and increasingly the reality, of their airline losing or delaying their luggage. Thousands of flights are also canceled or modified. Major airports in Europe and the United States, as well as in Australia and Canada, are full of unclaimed, untagged or misplaced suitcases even as travelers go weeks or months without finding their bags. Emirates recently said the situation was so bad it could be called “airmageddon”.

How did we get to this situation?

A severe labor shortage has hit airlines and airport operators hard as the holiday rush has brought in large numbers of tourists. Many ground workers, including baggage handlers, were laid off during the pandemic and moved on to other jobs, making it difficult to find ground staff during the peak holiday season. A long labor strike has made matters worse for understaffed German carrier Lufthansa. Emirates has blamed management at London’s Heathrow Airport for failing to make arrangements to deal with the holiday surge, even after airlines gave airport authorities enough visibility to anticipate the surge.

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Photo: Reuters

Is the global baggage crisis easing?

Small improvements are already visible in some areas. Cancellations at London Heathrow and Gatwick airports, among the hardest hit by the crisis, are steadily declining. The Lufthansa strike ended favorably for the employees. At Qantas, executives are taking more desperate measures, such as urging management to volunteer to work as ground staff.

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What can you do if you lose your luggage?

Find airline or airport staff and file a delayed baggage claim quickly. Depending on the destination or connecting airport, your baggage may take from a few days to a few weeks to reach you; so be sure to check with the airline frequently and keep your shipping address up to date. Airlines advise passengers to travel light, not to leave essentials in checked baggage and to avoid checked baggage if possible. Taking direct flights also limits the risk that your luggage does not arrive at your destination with you.

How can you keep track of your bags?

Apple’s AirTags and Tile trackers have recently grown in popularity. They don’t have built-in GPS chips, but use Bluetooth connections to phones (iOS only for AirTags) to track luggage. They also use a network of users to track devices when the phone is not nearby. So as long as there are enough Tile or iPhone users, they can transmit a last known location. It may not be the exact location, but it will be better than knowing if your luggage never made it to the plane in the first place.

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