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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Service Desk Analyst - (Active Directory, Support, London)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, VBA)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition