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British Airways Has Given Up Loading Luggage On Flights And Planes Aren’t Being Cleaned

British Airways Has Given Up Loading Luggage On Flights And Planes Aren’t Being Cleaned

British Airways deliberately stopped loading luggage on flights on Thursday evening and some planes went uncleaned as the carrier tried to keep up with a surge in demand while battling a staffing crisis that has already resulted in several operational meltdowns at the London-based airline over the last few months.

The airline told baggage handlers to stop loading luggage on short-haul flights in order to prioritise long-haul services on one of the biggest travel days so far this year.  

One of the problems that BA has faced in the last few weeks is not having enough staff available to unload bags from planes that have arrived at its main hub at Heathrow Airport.  With bags just sitting in the belly hold of planes, British Airways has then been forced to cancel or delay flights until the baggage has been unloaded from aircraft.

The hope, presumably, is by not even bothering to load luggage on planes in the first place, it will allow the airline to continue operating flights and, at the very least, get passengers where they want to be.

As complaints started to pour in from disgruntled customers on Twitter, the airline responded by asking passengers to report missing bags and wait for them to be sent separately in the coming days.  Some passengers caught up in previous rounds of disruption, however, say they are still waiting for their luggage several weeks later.

British Airways says it is facing a staffing crunch because the aviation industry is facing delays in security vetting which is preventing newly hired employees from starting work.  Industry insiders have blamed vetting delays on the government but Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has refused to take the blame, saying airlines were given plenty of notice to prepare for the end of travel restrictions.

Airlines say they were forced to slash employees numbers at the height of the pandemic because of government-imposed travel restrictions but the industry is facing more challenges than just security vetting delays.  There is a general reluctance to rejoin an industry that was so quick to lay off thousands of employees, while COVID related sickness continues to plague the industry.

In a recent memo, BA chief executive Sean Doyle admitted that customers and staff were “rightly fed up” about the situation and promised to make changes to stop the disruption.  The airline has already trimmed its schedule through to the end of May to take some pressure off.

Similar issues are being felt by airlines around the world.  In recent days, JetBlue has cut back its schedule and offered incentives for flight attendants not to call in sick over the coming weeks.  And in Australia, there have been chaotic scenes at airports across the country as staffing woes cause long delays at check-in and security.  Thousands of passengers have also found themselves without luggage because it was never loaded on flights.

View Comments (7)
  • This all has come about because BA management have treated their staff like shit for years and because the UK voted like fools for Brexit, and the pandemic created a perfect shit storm. Oh and let’s not forget those pathetic HCCU aka Ex-Mixed Fleet Unite reps that couldn’t collectively bargain their members out of a paper bag and would rather get incentives working with management to help get rid their own colleagues during the pandemic.

    • Hi Jane., you;ve resurfaced with a new monicker. Good for you. Your argument would be better if you
      gave examples and balanced it with bassa short comings and even your own experiences.
      Simply bad mouthing one aspect of a huge problem invented and expanded by the company itself
      doesn’t do any good. This blog is pretty widely read and voices are important but you aren’t using
      yours to the best way you can.

  • Covid can not be held responsible for much of the troubles British Airways is experiencing. The pandemic has simply worked to unmask a significant list of pre-existing problems. These problems will exacerbate until CEO Sean Doyle is made to understand that the mid level management he seems to go on believing are capable and well informed enough are removed and replaced by experienced personnel ideally from outside of the company who have broad business education and proven experience.

    Unless you were in a coma since March 2020 there is no need to regurgitate the events that led to today except to summarize that in the case of British Airways covid provided an outstanding opportunity to drive through former CEO Willie Walsh’s plans to demolish the legacy cabin crews from the Worldwide and Eurofleet groups and merge the three (including 2010s Mixed Fleet) into a single one-size-fits-all group. There certainly is a valid economic argument for the now single Heathrow Cabin Crew fleet but the lack of planning and foresight and the nature of the management is appallingly inadequate.
    Repeated IT failures that have grounded hundreds of flights and stranded thousands of passenger as well as the ongoing cabin crew problems have been until now the most visible and tangible problems. And there is every indication that they will continue and that they will worsen.

    The computer system is running. For now. Any investment cited to be being made by IAG will take in all probability take much longer to take effect than the next outage or two which must by the nature of the outdated system be on the horizon.
    Cabin Crew are running ragged as recruitment moves at snail’s pace and there is a wildly chaotic management of existing cabin crew means that certain aircraft like the A350 and the A380 do not have enough qualified crew to operate on them. A number of A380 crew, although flying, are locked out of working on it because of gross failures in planning – their operator liscences have expired.

    Planes are filthy and the airline is relying on certain stations where larger and quicker cleaning teams work with an efficiency and dexterity not seen at Heathrow. In all probability, the airline subscribes even on the most operationally successful day to the most basic of sub-contracted menu fee options.
    It appeared to have never occurred to BA management that the staffing problems and logistic challenges would extend to cleaning companies, catering facilities and other below-wing Heathrow Airport workers. BA has never subscribed to an efficient process for passengers in need of wheelchair assistance which can only worsen now.

    The airline repeatedly made promises to get people flying again but again, no one appears to have stopped several months ago to consider on what aircraft would these people be flying? Thirty-three Boeing 747s were retired at a stroke in an hysterical scramble to lock the airlines tills and cash boxes but since then only a handful of Airbus A350s and two Boeing 787-10s have been delivered.

    It is clear that there is still blurred vision and no action towards Sean Doyle’s make A Better BA pledge that promised to correct the wrongs experienced by staff and customers.
    Staff were invited to complete a reality check survey in late 2021 the results of which were so appalling that the full result will not be published. Yet, for cabin crew, some eighteen months after the foundations of a new fleet and flying agreement were laid, several of the promises have not been delivered. A crew swap system, which is far more significant in terms of application and use than the simple name suggests, has been repeatedly reneged upon. A haphazard interim system was thrown out to crew to use and relies exclusively on the use of random Facebook groups and an entirely inflexible administrative process. Heathrow terminal workers face similar problems with their shifts and a recent A350 departure to Sao Paulo would have left with no luggage on board had the captain not intervened because the luggage handler shift had ended some fifteen minutes before the late night departure.

    Elsewhere in the crew department, several former Worldwide crew who remain set against the new system of mixed flying, long haul and short haul combined, call sick when their conversion courses are rostered and remain out of the short haul pool. May cabin crew rosters were delayed for a week after the head of scheduling realized too late that crew were rostered to work on aircraft they were not qualified on – A320 short haul to the most part. Again, these short sighted 9-5 visions on a 24-7 operation are chronic throughout the airline.

    Sean Doyle has the most unenviable job in aviation. It is clear as a man, he desires and strives for A Better BA but he is not well enough supported – either by a management team with know how and drive or a general staff who have the energy to get behind the same management teams that have brought on so many challenges, seen and unseen by the public.

    But never mind. The customer product delivery teams are working furiously on rearranging the chinaware on the Club World meal tray and a new meal order form is going to revolutionize the business class experience because as everyone knows, a new bit of paper is all that it takes to bring in the abracadabra British Airways needs.

  • ok covid has pretty much passed by. pick your lazy backsides up and go back to work.
    quit counting on govt stimulus and unemployment to pay your way thru life.
    your job isnt that tough. did it for 20 years and it was a cakewalk.

  • Should of furlong the staff instead of getting rid of them and all British Airways is thinking is profit and making money for the shareholders.

  • This is awful, but not surprising. BA’s gamble to try and compete with the low cost carriers has massively backfired. Now they face a worst of both worlds situation: they’re more expensive than the “proper” budget carriers, but offer worse service. I usually have a better experience with Wizz Air when flying in Europe – and that’s saying a lot!

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