Overwhelmed airports lose their luggage, leave travelers in the dark

Cases of lost and delayed luggage skyrocket as travelers face unique problems at airports across North America and Europe, according to a new federal report.

This so-called “airmageddon” has been building on for several months: in April, nearly 220,000 checked baggage among US airlines was lost, damaged, delayed or torn, a staggering 135% increase from the same period in 2021, according to the latest US Department of Transportation Air Travel Consumer Report released in June.

American Airlines led the herd with the highest probability of mismanagement of customer luggage, with almost 70,000 cases in April 2022 compared to around 37,000 in April 2021[ads1]. Alaska, Jet Blue, Delta and United, in that order, had the second highest proportion of mishandled luggage. .

American has topped the list two years in a row, while Delta, United and Alaska all got worse, pushing Spirit out of the top five in April 2022.

Luggage complaints from consumers against US and foreign airlines increased even more – by 619% in the last year.

Overwhelmed airports lose their luggage, leave travelers in the dark
Almost 220,000 checked baggage was lost, damaged, delayed or torn in April 2022. An increase of 135% from the same time period in 2021.
Photo by Nathan Papes / Springfield News-Leader / USA Today Network / Sipa USA

The total number of consumer complaints about airlines increased by 147%, the report states

What exacerbates the problems is what passengers describe as horrible customer service from airlines about what happens to all the lost and damaged bags.

“The biggest thing that is so discouraging and in a way traumatic is just the complete lack of respect and communication for consumers,” Kartik Akileswaran, whose bags have been missing for over a week, told The Post.

U.S.-born Akileswaran, 37, and his wife Uthara Ganesh, 33, flew more than 4,000 miles from their current home in New Delhi, India, to Paris, France, to attend a friend’s wedding.

When they landed, they waited so long for the bags that they missed the wedding, leaving them “completely desperate.”

Chris Wood, a retiree in his mid – 70s living in Scotland, lost his bags on a return flight from Montreal to Edinburgh late last week.

Wood said she and her husband spent seven days calling, e-mailing and tweeting the airport and the airline “without answering.” They only received the luggage after a stranger found their bag left at the airport, and contacted Wood’s husband via an email address on the bag’s ID card.

Complaints related to luggage from domestic and foreign airlines increased by 619% in the last year.
Complaints related to luggage from domestic and foreign airlines increased by 619% in the last year.
REUTERS / Elijah Nouvelage

Wood called the experience “a nightmare”, which she attributed to “really poor communication” between airlines, airports and travelers. “Customer relationships were really bad, customer care was non-existent,” she said.

Last week, Louis Quinones, 50, flew from Tampa, Florida, to Berlin, Germany, with a suitcase filled with medicine, electronics and family heirlooms that have since been lost.

For over a week he has been navigating what he described as a “desert of customer service” without “no human contact”.

Not only have they not found it, but [there‚Äôs] no communication whatsoever, he said. “No one has called me to alleviate my discomfort.”

Experts have attributed the travel chaos to the lack of staffing and work strikes. Delta Airlines pilots last week picked up outside airports across the United States for higher wages and more time off. Airline workers in France, Spain, Sweden and Denmark are currently on strike for higher wages, and British Airways barely avoided an impending strike on Thursday.

Ganesh and Akileswaran said they were sympathetic to the striking workers, but were still discouraged by the complete lack of communication. The airline’s voicemail was full during a recent conversation, Akileswaran said.

“There’s a black hole at this point,” said Ganesh, 33, a frequent flyer technical director who said she had never experienced anything like it. “Honestly, it seems like it’s the worst time in history.”

A spokesman for Berlin Brandenburg Airport said: “At the major hubs, there are currently delays in baggage handling due to manning problems.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and airports in Tampa, Edinburgh, Brussels and Toronto sent The Post to airlines and leased ground handling companies. SriLankan Airlines, Lufthansa and AirFrance did not respond to requests for comment.

With Post wires

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