Arriving at a destination to find your luggage has not made the journey is a nightmare for many travellers, and in most instances in a worst-case scenario. However, a baggage handler has shared a shocking insight.
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While lost luggage is a worst-case-scenario, the latest baggage IT insight report from SITA reveals that around 25 million bags were “mishandled” during 2019. In most cases, one would expect this to be a mistake, and indeed often it is.
SITA cites some of the most common reasons for forgotten bags as ticketing errors, loading errors, transfer errors, or airport-related restrictions.
However, a former airport ramp worker has suggested that there are some situations in which airlines purposefully leave bags behind.
They revealed all on a Reddit forum dedicated to “airline secrets”.
The worker explained: “Some baggage on a busy flight may get left behind on purpose because the cargo hold is full.
“We would cover the carts with the leftover baggage when hauling them back to the sorting station so the passengers wouldn’t notice and freak out. .”
This is supposedly down to weight limits for the airlines.
If the bags and cargo combined total more than the aircraft is able to carry, passengers may be the ones facing a snub.
This is because, for many carriers, cargo shipments make up far more income for them than passengers airfares.
In 2018 alone, the airline industry made an estimated £4.98 trillion ($6.2 trillion) from cargo shipments according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
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The growth in cargo popularity is partially thanks to the boom in ecommerce in recent years, with online shopping driving huge numbers for the retail sector.
The removal of bags from flights is called “bulk-out” and has caused international airlines controversy over the years.
Speaking to Canadian news channel CBC, Todd Haverstock, a western region chair for the union that represents Canadian baggage agents described it as a “unique situation”.
“[We] know there are passengers getting on that plane and unfortunately their bags aren’t going there,” he said.
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“Sometimes it’s not due to the weight, it would be due to the size.
“For instance, if we had a big band that would be travelling on an aircraft, the band equipment is not all square boxes or square bags.”
He added that bags are chosen for removal arbitrarily, not necessarily because of their size, shape or when they were checked in.
However, bags destined for connecting flights tend to be left onboard.
The good news is, that while reports of this have circulated internationally, no UK airlines have been outed for this behaviour in recent years.
What’s more, if a passenger does arrive at the airport to find their bag missing, they can report it immediately in the baggage hall.
A dedicated desk serves at a port of call for passengers with any luggage-related woes, and staff are on hand to escalate complaints and find out what happened to missing or damaged bags.
In any instance, travel insurance with adequate luggage coverage is a must-have.
Anna Sant, travel insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, advises: “Most luggage arrives at its intended destination without a hitch. However, with the Civil Aviation Authority receiving over 2,000 unresolved luggage complaints in the past five years, it’s clear that it’s not always an issue that airlines can fix themselves.
“Noting the contents and value of your cases will also assist with any subsequent insurance claims.
“It’s therefore vital you take out travel insurance with the right level of cover, as soon as you book your trip. Most policies will cover the full cost of your belongings but it’s worth double-checking before proceeding with a policy.”
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