Luggage mayhem adds to airport chaos

Missing bags are piling up as airlines and airports lack the staff to deal with them.

Luggage piles up at Heathrow (Photo by Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

Airlines are not having a chill time. On top of canceled and delayed flights, mishandled bags are up 135% YoY.

Twitter — the preferred platform for yelling at airlines — reveals a myriad of angry passengers wondering where their bags are.

And Edinburgh Airport — where hundreds of missing bags are being stored at a nearby warehouse — suspended its customer helpline because callers were verbally abusing agents over missing luggage.

Why is this happening?

Airlines actually mishandled luggage at a higher rate in April 2019.

But many airlines and airports that let staff go amid the pandemic have been unable to restaff, and that labor shortage combined with a surge in travel is creating unusual levels of chaos.

  • For example: London’s Heathrow Airport has capped the number of departing passengers to 100k per day as videos show missing bags piling up. To help, Delta flew 1k bags from London to its Detroit hub on a passengerless plane.

What can passengers do?

The simplest solution? Pack light to avoid checking bags.

And some travelers are tracking checked luggage with AirTags or similar devices, which use Bluetooth and are permissible on planes, per Bloomberg.

  • Some trackers revealed bags sitting in airports for days, while one Florida man tracked his bags across England and Scotland.

While tracking devices may provide some peace of mind — at least you know where your bags are even if the airline doesn’t — only an end to the staffing shortage is apt to end the madness.

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