Heathrow Terminal 5 lost baggage Q&A: What's gone wrong?
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Tuesday 01 July 2014
Q What’s gone wrong?
Four days of intermittent baggage-belt breakdowns, which British Airways blames squarely on IT faults by Heathrow. Many of the lost cases are transfer bags, which didn’t find their way through Terminal 5’s complex baggage system, while others were checked in at Heathrow but did not make their way to the right plane.
BA says: “Large numbers of delayed bags have now departed from Heathrow and we have drawn up detailed plans for the remaining bags. The processes to repatriate baggage are complex due to security and customs regulations in each country. Given the volumes of bags and the nature of global travel, it may take several days to reunite bags with their owners.”
Q What compensation can be claimed by a passenger whose bag goes astray?
While the aviation world is brimming with remedies when passengers are delayed, their baggage is a different matter. The good news is that almost all bags are ultimately reunited with their owners – but meanwhile you are allowed to claim for essentials, typically £100 or £200, but you must keep receipts for absolutely everything. Longer term, if your bag is one of the few that never turns up, the limit per case is about £1,100 under the terms of the Montreal Convention.
Q What’s the secret for avoiding losing your bags?
If you can avoid checking in bags, then do so. BA stresses that normal cabin baggage rules apply, but they are generous: a 23kg case and another piece of carry-on luggage per person. More broadly, if you can avoid plane changes en route, there’s a much better chance that you will find your bag circling on the carousel at your destination.
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