Alaska Airlines had twice the usual number of baggage handlers call in sick since Friday morning, though the airline says this is not part of a coordinated job action. As a result many bags didn’t make it to their destination. That’s frustrating for customers, of course.
What’s notable to me, though, is the Alaska Airlines apology. There’s nothing mealy mouthed about it. There’s no hedging. It’s not offered in the third person (no ‘we apologize if, mistakes were made’..).
First off, we sincerely apologize to our guests who endured considerable inconvenience and understandable frustration at Sea-Tac Airport over the past two days. With many different factors working against us, we dropped the ball, and by doing that, created an awful holiday travel experience just when people rely on us the most.
Put simply: a severe staffing shortage during a very heavy travel period, as well as difficult weather conditions, unleashed a cascade of problems for us, and – unfairly – for our guests. A large number of workers who support our baggage operation had called out sick.
Starting Friday morning, we did not have enough ramp workers in place to successfully handle the holiday volume of baggage. A backlog quickly took shape and that prevented many bags from being loaded on flights ultimately causing our guests to arrive at their destinations without their checked bags. We simply did not have enough people to do all the work. This caused us not to operate our gates efficiently and kept our aircraft out on the tarmac waiting until gate space opened up. We have called in many management employees from across the company to assist with the baggage backup and recovery.
Alaska Airlines explained what happened, took responsibility for it, and acknowledged the harm they caused. The piece goes on to explain what passengers can do. Adults hold themselves accountable for failure. It’s too rare that we see airlines, or any large businesses, doing that.
Unmentioned is that the credit card you used to pay for your ticket may cover baggage delay with up to $100 a day for necessary expenses. Save receipts and file a claim promptly.