A Brisbane airport employee has shared photos of mountains of inbound baggage that have yet to be connected to passengers as chaos spreads across the world.
Airports around the world seem to have one thing in common right now: chaotic scenes.
From endless check-in lines, flight delays and missing luggage, it has been a difficult recovery as airlines and airports struggle to cope with staffing problems and pent-up travel demand after the Covid-19 pandemic.
At Sydney Airport alone, this week’s photos showed check-in and baggage drop lines stretching hundreds of meters, while an increasing number passengers arriving at their destination without their luggage†
Shane Miller, a cycling enthusiast from Ballarat, was flying Singapore Airlines when he arrived at Melbourne Airport in June without his luggage, including $6,000 worth of cycling equipment. However, there is no suggestion that this is a problem unique to Singapore Airlines – it is something that affects all airports and airlines around the world.
He contacted the airline and its baggage handling partner Swissport, but managed to: pick up the bag yourself with an AirTag after two weeks.
It was found in Swissport’s Melbourne Airport office, where Mr. Miller captured images of piles of uncollected bags awaiting distribution or collection.
Following Mr Miller’s story, a Brisbane employee of Swissport told news.com.au that the Queensland airport headquarters is also packed with suitcases for passengers awaiting reconnection with passengers.
Swissport is the baggage partner for multiple airlines, including Air NZ, Hawaiian Airlines, Jetstar and Singapore Airlines, with ports in Australian cities such as Adelaide, Sydney, Gold Coast and Melbourne.
The Swissport employee, who wishes to remain unnamed, has taken several photos in recent weeks of the huge number of bags in his Brisbane office that have yet to be connected with passengers.
A Swissport spokesperson told news.com.au that there was a point a few weeks ago when the number of unaccompanied baggage arriving at Australian airports meant there was a backlog of suitcases at Swissport’s offices awaiting re-entry. connection with their owners.
“Those backlogs have now been eliminated. Those bags came in from abroad and were disconnected from the customer at some point during their trip to Australia. They are not the result of Swissport’s activities in Australia,” the spokesperson said.
“Swissport manages baggage handling in Australia, and once the baggage arrives here, it becomes our responsibility to reconnect them with the customer.”
Overall, the Swissport employee said part of the reason checked baggage doesn’t get on a flight is because of the shortened timing.
“If they [bags] If they are not cleared by security in time for the team to load onto the plane, they will be left behind,” he told news.com.au.
“The platform team must have loaded the plane for a certain amount of time, so if the bags aren’t there to be loaded, they go on the next flight.”
He said baggage handlers are given time to load the “cans” (containers) from the moment check-in opens until about 15 minutes before departure.
“Sometimes they have to wait until all the bags are checked in and the load controller has given them the information about where to load each container and in what order so that the plane is balanced.”
However, with staff shortages across the industry, long lines are expected, which in turn creates a knock-on effect meaning some bags don’t get on the plane in time for takeoff.
“Security was packed today (at Brisbane airport) and they only had six employees with four flights departing within an hour of each other,” he explained.
“They had over 600 people trying to get through, so the line was huge and lasted up to 45 minutes.
“They even turned off the escalator to slow people down so the queue wasn’t that long.”
The loss of bags in Australia cannot be compared to what has happened in the UK and Europe. London Heathrow Airport recently made headlines for hundreds, if not thousandsof suitcases piled up in a huge storage area due to technical problems.
At the time, airlines using Heathrow terminals two and three were asked to cut 10 percent of their flights to give the airport a chance to catch up.
Many passengers reported lengthy delays of several hours as they had to endure the effects of the baggage issues.
The Swissport employee said that as a baggage partner of some of the major airlines, it is Swissport’s responsibility to connect passengers with inbound bags that are disconnected from flights.
“Once the bag has arrived in, say, Sydney or Brisbane, we will call and email the passenger to let them know they are there and how they would like to collect their bag,” he said.
He said the passenger has the option of collecting it from the Swissport airport office or having it couriered at the airline’s expense.
“Sometimes if the passengers do not respond, the bag will remain in the office until Swissport has contacted them,” he said.
However, the employee said there is an industry-wide problem with staff shortages affecting the process.
The staffer said that when it comes to Swissport’s handlers, it takes time to train new people on the right aircraft.
“Even people who get Covid and the flu have not helped with the workforce,” he said.
“When Covid hit, so many people were resigned that they couldn’t fill the vacancies as quickly as they wanted, or train people as quickly.
“I also think people are still a little bit afraid of working and traveling for airlines just because it all shut down so quickly when Covid started.”
The employee said that with more flights entering and leaving Australia, companies such as Swissport, Dnata, Menzies and some airlines are hiring more staff to keep up with this increase in flights.
Chloe Surridge, general manager of airports for the Air New Zealand group, said that as air traffic increases for Air New Zealand, they are busy preparing for what will be their busiest July in two years.
“This includes getting more crew and pilots on board, more staff at our airports and those in our contact center,” Ms Surridge told news.com.au.
“In May alone, we made more than 430 job offers across the company, the highest in our history. Building our airline is done carefully so that we have sufficient resources across the company to get the job done safely.”
She said there are many puzzle pieces when it comes to getting a plane on time and getting customers where they need to be.
“We are proud of our excellent performance on time. Unfortunately, bags can be delayed for many reasons, such as late check-in, security checks, or perhaps missing a connecting flight and so there are times when the plane has to leave without the bag.” “Should this happen, a ‘rush’ luggage tag will be attached to the bag and the back will be tracked to get to the destination as quickly as possible.”
She said only four bags per 1,000 customers on her international network have been mishandled in the past four weeks.
The Swissport employee said the baggage problem in Australia is “better” compared to the baggage chaos in other parts of the world, such as the UK.
According to the Telegraphsome passengers from the UK have used their own tracking devices to keep an eye on their belongings from abroad or create social media accounts to reach airline customer service.
The publication reported a spike in baggage-related complaints, with nearly 2,000 since the problems started in March.
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