The UK travel disruption continues as Easter weekend approaches, with reports of long queues at Heathrow and Manchester airports on Monday.
When it comes to travel experiences, there’s little worse than watching the minutes tick by in a stationary queue and trying to figure out if you can make it to your gate before your flight takes off.
But losing your luggage is also part of it, and many British holidaymakers have had to deal with this in recent days.
“Hundreds of passengers across the country are being stripped of their luggage for hours and sometimes even days as baggage claim areas pile up,” said Paul Stewart, managing director of baggage transportation company My Baggage.
“Many have been asked to make claims for missing bags, which can lead to weeks before the airline couriers their belongings.”
What is behind the baggage problems at UK airports?
This is another corollary of the recent Staffing issues at major UK airports. Baggage handlers have been struggling to keep up with the sudden influx of tourists since Covid restrictions were lifted. Airlines responsible for your baggage laid off thousands of employees at the start of the pandemic and are now struggling to rehire them in time.
A Reddit user who says he works “on the baggage side of things” at Manchester Airport wrote last week that “far too many people” have been laid off “instead of just keeping them on holiday in the beginning”.
Now, they say, the whole place is running on a skeleton staff.
Early starts and low wages make it difficult for airlines to attract new employees, who then have to undergo weeks of security screening.
A spokesman for the airport told Euronews Green: “We are doing everything we can to recruit the number of colleagues we need to support the remobilization of our operations following the biggest crisis our industry has ever faced. “
Searches for “lost luggage” peaked last week in the UK, according to Google Trends data for the past 12 months.
Photos of stacks of abandoned suitcases shared on social media are the other side of this coin. Some travelers resorted to leaving their belongings for the night rather than spending another hour watching an empty conveyor belt.
If you’re having trouble sorting your bags, here are some handy tips to help you get your items back.
Lost luggage? Keep calm and call your airline
“If your luggage doesn’t make it to the destination airport, it’s best to remain calm,” says Stewart.
“There are many options that can make a huge difference when it comes to tackling lost baggage, with the most important being reporting the issue to your airline immediately as you are more likely to receive compensation.”
Be sure to leave your contact information when you call the airline so they can keep you updated. Most airlines, including easyJet, will deliver your luggage to your home if your luggage is delayed or lost.
In some cases, if your travel or home insurance also covers lost baggage, Stewart suggests that making a claim this way can be more effective than through the airline you flew with.
Pack light and travel with hand luggage
Easier said than done for some travelers, but packing less could be part of the solution. Just taking hand luggage with you shortens waiting times at check-in and when collecting luggage.
Smarter packing also brings you more peace of mind. Try to pack your electronics and other valuables, like jewelry, in your carry-on so you can keep track of them.
British Airways recommends this at the best of times – as they accept no liability for lost valuables, cash or documents in checked baggage unless you declare a higher value at the check-in counter and pay an additional fee.
It may also be worth getting travel insurance before the trip, which covers the loss of valuables during your trip.
And just in case your luggage gets lost, you’ll thank your former self for packing essentials like toiletries and a change of underwear in your carry-on.
Could a luggage courier service be the solution?
As a luggage transport company, MyBaggage has one horse in this race. But a courier service is becoming more and more attractive for Easter travelers who want to avoid at least part of the queues.
“Using a luggage carrier allows passengers to travel knowing their luggage will be waiting for them at their destination, and waiting times can be more than halved by avoiding queues and ever-increasing wait times for baggage claim,” says Stewart .
For example, for a 20kg suitcase from your home to a hotel in Spain, the company charges £36 (€43) for delivery in three to four days, which may be cheaper than checking a bag with the airline you’re traveling with to fly .