Air travel is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to get around the world, but every now and then passengers find themselves faced with unexpected bumps along the way. One of the most common is lost or delayed luggage. Thousands of passengers every year arrive at their destination to find their possessions did not make the journey. While there is little you can do to avoid this unfortunate situation, new research has revealed that there are some UK airports where lost or damaged luggage is a common occurrence.
The new data was released by price comparison site MoneySuperMarket, which identified over 2,000 complaints to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regarding lost, delayed or damaged luggage complaints about flights to and from UK airports since 2015.
The CAA tend to step into these situations when problems are escalated, having gone unresolved by airlines.
While the information revealed a number of offenders, there is one UK airport in particular that led the way for baggage related tribulations.
London’s Heathrow Airport, the largest in the country, was the main culprit.
In the time period assessed the CAA received 636 complaints about the London-based flight hub.
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Reportedly travellers are twice as likely to face luggage issues at Heathrow than at Gatwick, and 10.4 times more likely than at London Stanstead.
The airport, which sees 80 million international passengers pass through its terminal’s annually, does offer some support for travellers who find themselves separated from their suitcase.
Heathrow’s website lays out its lost luggage policy, saying: “Your baggage has been delayed or lost during your flight, you need to inform your airline as soon as possible.
“British Airways passengers can inform the airline of lost luggage at the Arrivals desk, which is situated in the baggage reclaim area.
“You will be asked to complete a lost baggage report describing the model, make and colour of your baggage; give them your baggage tag receipt to aid British Airways in finding your luggage; exchange contact numbers and you will also be given a tracking reference number.”
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“You will be contacted as soon as your luggage has been located.
“You can also track the progress of your luggage online using the British Airways baggage tracking service. You can also report missing or delayed luggage online. Bagport also operates Heathrow Airport’s lost property service.”
Which other Airports made the luggage list?
London Gatwick received 280 complaints during the time period, meanwhile, London Stanstead and London Luton received 61 and 27 respectively.
London City Airport was deemed the best airport for keeping passenger airport safe, with only 15 grievances listed.
Outside of London, other airports that made it to the list were Manchester, with 186 complaints, Birmingham with 100 complaints, and Edinburgh with 47 complaints.
Glasgow and Newcastle fared fairly well, with just 26 and 23 customer gripes filed respectively.
According to MoneySuperMarket, on average passengers face waits of up 7.8 days for lost luggage to be returned, with an unlucky eight per cent of travellers never seeing their beloved baggage again.
What to do if your bag goes missing
Luckily, there are some ways passengers can protect themselves against this unfortunate scenario.
Before travelling, passengers should make sure their bag is distinguishable, perhaps by listing their name or number on any bag tag they have.
Of course, those things may be easy to suggest in hindsight, but there are still options if you do find yourself parted from your possessions.
Anna Sant, travel insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, advises: “Most luggage arrives at its intended destination without a hitch. However, with the Civil Aviation Authority receiving over 2,000 unresolved luggage complaints in the past five years, it’s clear that it’s not always an issue that airlines can fix themselves.
“Preparing for your trip with items such as luggage tags can help any lost items find their way back to you.
“Many airlines have information sheets for anyone whose luggage goes missing, which details the next steps and acts as written confirmation.
“Noting the contents and value of your cases will also assist with any subsequent insurance claims.
“It’s therefore vital you take out travel insurance with the right level of cover, as soon as you book your trip. Most policies will cover the full cost of your belongings but it’s worth double-checking before proceeding with a policy.”