Heathrow BA misery continues as 10,000 suitcases go missing

The luggage chaos emerged as a major new problem, as the airport attempts to recover from the wildcat strike action that first paralysed BA and other airlines on Thursday. Four out of five flights were operating normally yesterday, but thousands of would-be travellers remained in limbo.

No priority has been given to those who suffered long delays. Instead they are being rebooked where seats are available, offered the chance to travel on another airline, or given a refund. But baggage trapped in the system has delayed passengers from setting out on alternative routes. And it is expected to take several days for the backlog to be cleared.

Up to 100,000 travellers have had their trips disrupted since Wednesday when BA staff walked out in sympathy with hundreds of catering workers who were sacked by a supplier of in-flight meals, Gate Gourmet.

The industrial action by workers, including baggage handlers, crippled the airport and cost the airline about £40m in refunds and hotel bills at the height of the holiday season. Talks between Gate Gourmet and the Transport and General Workers' Union, which represents its sacked workers, continued at a hotel through the day.

A Heathrow spokeswoman said there were still several thousand passengers who had not yet been allocated tickets for a flight that would be operating, but it was impossible to give exact figures for how many people were waiting.

Flights began running again at 8.30pm on Friday after BA staff returned to their posts.

But the episode has led to angry condemnation of the union for failing to control the BA militants who led the secondary action. Barry Sheerman, the chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, said a "malign influence" was at work in the airport, which has been hit by disruption three years in a row.

"There is no doubt about it, we have a leadership out of control at Heathrow, the T&G particularly has no backbone. It is spineless union leadership." The Huddersfield MP said it was no accident the rows flare up in August as "they are pre-planned and plotted".

A huge marquee has been erected to accommodate people who turned up despite being urged to stay away. Many were still experiencing frustration, but were making the best of it. Two families from Plymouth, Devon, were camped out in the Terminal 4 marquee yesterday after arriving at Heathrow at 6am to be told their flight to Abu Dhabi had been cancelled.

Chris Booth, 38, who has two children, said: "We phoned last night and were told it was all on, so when we turned up here they said it was all off. If we had known I could have left my wife and children at the hotel but the BA helpline is not manned between midnight and 9am and our flight was meant to be at 9.30am."

Sitting with the couple's sons, Jacob, 12, and 11-year-old Joseph, Mr Booth's wife, Janet, 39, said: "It's been a bit of a laugh so far. We have not had a sense of humour failure yet but come back in four hours."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...