Passengers flying into Heathrow Terminal 5 were told to abandon their bags or wait hours to retrieve their luggage due to apparent staff shortages at the home of British Airways on Saturday and Sunday.
Baggage ‘chaos’ descended on the airport a day after Storm Eunice ripped across Britain leaving a trail of destruction and forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights at the windswept West London airport.
The baggage delays, however, don’t appear to be directly connected to the stormy conditions although passengers complained that no one from British Airways or Heathrow was willing to explain what was behind the chaotic scenes.
Some passengers said they had been forced to wait several hours for their luggage to appear on the baggage carousel on Saturday but by the evening the system had apparently ground to a complete halt and customers were told to go home and fill in a lost luggage form.
Adam on Twitter blasted British Airways as a “disgrace” over its handling of the situation.
“Hiding your customer service staff when being asked for updates and mountains of undelivered/unclaimed bags. Blaming the wind when the reality is you’re short-staffed. Embarrassing,” the tweet continued.
Adam was forced to wait three hours for his bags but others said they had been waiting for at least four hours.
“Captain said a shortage of ground crew meant the bags from the inbound flight were slow to be offloaded and the bags for our flight even slower to be loaded,” one user on frequent flyer message board FlyerTalk posted after their flight to Geneva was delayed.
Another user said the situation was still as bad on Sunday morning. After arriving on an overnight flight from Chicago, the passengers were forced 40 minutes just for buses to take them to the terminal.
That was only the beginning of the wait… Their luggage took several hours to start appearing on the baggage carousel.
With so many passengers forced to report their bag as missing, some started to complain that BA’s online lost luggage reporting form had crashed.
In a statement, British Airways pinned the blame on continuing bad weather, saying: “We are currently facing ongoing disruption as a result of storms in the UK and across Europe this week.”
“We’re sorry for the inconvenience we know this may have caused. Please rest assured we’ll do everything we can to help and we have volunteers from across the airline arriving at Heathrow to offer their support.”
Rather than waiting at the airport to collect luggage, BA suggests customers simply head home and wait for their bags to be couried to them. “If you are still at the airport, we would recommend heading home or to your destination and we will courier your baggage to you at the earliest opportunity,” the statement continued.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.