There’s So Much Lost Luggage, Workers Are Throwing Some Away In The Trash

There’s been a lot of missing bags this summer, especially in Europe. Delta had to fly a plane full of only missing bags from London to Detroit in order to sort the mess on home turf (they likely then shipped some of those bags back to London!). Icelandair has been flying planes with baggage handlers on them. Amsterdam’s baggage system broke, and KLM stopped accepting checked bags from connecting passengers within Europe.

As airlines work through the backlog of lost bags, not everyone on staff is well-incentivized to reunite people with their luggage. Instead they may just be expected to clear the backlog. And what is the quickest, easiest way for an employee to do that – an employee who doesn’t see the customer?

A whistleblower shared photos of lost bags simply thrown away at the Dublin airport. Some of the bags “had been opened,” presumably pilfered of anything valuable before being tossed.

Contractor Sky Handling defends the decision (!) to throw away the luggage claiming it was for health and safety reasons. They’d left the bags so long contents had begun to rot!

We can confirm that a small number of bags were being disposed of because they posed a health and safety risk to staff and a risk of contamination for other bags in their vicinity. The bags in question contained foodstuffs and other perishable items against notified custom regulations. These items were clearly going off and were at risk of attracting vermin.

Then they pivoted to blame customs, saying they’d had the bags by mistake in the first place and didn’t even know why. Meanwhile Dublin Airport denies responsibility, saying 4200 pieces of lost luggage is entirely the responsibility of ground handlers.

Don’t check luggage. Unless it’s purely for sport.

(HT: Z.D.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Vermin: as in baggage handlers with no capacity for empathy for travelers. And food rotting in the bags? WHat morons are out there packing perishables in checked bags to avoid customs…Surely they must know of the steep penalties, and shouldn’t those bags be tracked to fine the owners and nail them? Glad I can’t afford to travel overseas. I am not physically tall enough and don’t like to depend on others, nor am I strong enough to lift a packed carry on overhead, so I do check my bag. Who needs an injury to start a trip off….

  2. As someone with millions of Amex points and over 1 Million AA miles, millions of Hilton, Marriott, and Hyatt points, I just hate the thought of going to the airport or to travel any where anymore. Only trips I’ve taken lately are business trips and I do carry on. This shows a very good reason to do carry on only but you can’t jump the pond for 2 weeks with just carry on. AA Flight 640 from PHX to CLT thursday evening, 7/28/22 at 10:45 had 3 passengers who didn’t belong on the plane on the plane. 1 was for a later flight and 2 hadn’t checked in. How did they get through TSA and board a plane if they weren’t checked in? They put the early passenger off and then the 2 non-checked in passengers off and a minute later put them back on. How much are we paying for airport “security?”

  3. We travelled 6x internationally during the pandemic and don’t check luggage, except sometimes on the way home. Now, we don’t because we waited more than 2 hours in O’hare for luggage from a Turkish Airlines flight and it was because of staff shortages. Last spring, we were at Schiphol during the beginning of the luggagageddon. We were told to arrive at the airport 4 hours early, we did, no problems (we just missed the crowds) and had a long wait in an empty airport. Now, we are in London and when going through baggage claim at LHR, there were a lot of bags sitting there. My advice? Carry on only. Figure it out. Compression suitcases and cubes are a god-send. If I can pack for 2 weeks in carry on, so can anyone. I’m a 6 million mile flyer and haven’t checked in years.

  4. According to the great travel guru, Rick Steves all you need is a 9 by 14 by 11 backpack— ha. I’m with 1X Marine. The glory days of travel are long gone. The bus station has grown wings. Only one destination I’ll go through this grinder for and I come from an airline family.

  5. 1. I think that all articles about lost luggage nowadays are a bit overly dramatic. Most bags still make it on time just fine.
    2. It’s not possible for everyone to just travel with carry-ons. For instance, I just took my family on a six week transatlantic vacation, and also had to stock up on quite a lot of things that I needed to get abroad. That requires checked bags. And all bags made it just fine.
    3. This year, I’ve flown between the US and Europe with a euro connection on six (6) separate occations and checked-in luggage on five of these trips. No bags were lost. My next US-EU flight is in four weeks and I need to check luggage for that trip as well, and I’m not worried at all.
    4. I do, however, take a lot of precautions to minimize the risk of lost luggage. How? I have Airtags in all my bags as well as a minimum of four (4) luggage tags per bag AND a TSA locked luggage strap with another tag with address, name, etc. And I get priority tags from the airline. In addition, I place a brightly colored, laminated note in each bag stating ”THIS BELONGS TO: NAME, ADDRESS, ETC – REWARD IF FOUND!”. Works.

  6. I have traveled to over 53 counties in the past 32 years. Many of my three month trips, yes three months in a row (!) are in a Mother Lode Travel Backpack by ebags. It fits easy in the bins; when I land I walk off the plane. Easy peasy! AND…I usually end up getting rid of things because I didn’t need them.

    There is freedom in packing light. Also, there are washer machines throughout the world.

  7. Hiking poles are not allowed in carryon luggage, so some of us need to check luggage. I will be wearing my hiking boots though, just in case the luggage gets lost. One of the few things you can’t replace if you are doing a hiking vacation.

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