(Photo: British Airways)
Television executive Theano Apostolou was on a 10-day business trip from Los Angeles to London then Brussels and Glasgow when her luggage went missing on a British Airways flight from Brussels to Glasgow over the weekend.
By Monday morning her luggage had been lost for 53 hours and according to Apostolou the airline was unable to tell her if her bag even landed at Heathrow in the first place.
She isn’t alone. Since Thursday, thousands of pieces of luggage have been misplaced in the baggage system, causing travelers intense agitation.
Related: Know Your Passenger Rights
“When we arrived in Glasgow, I would say that almost everyone who had checked luggage for this regional flight had their bags lost. There were attendants with long forms with our names waiting to tell us our bags hadn’t made it,” Apostolou said. “I’ve now wasted hundreds of dollars on essentials because I was only on day three of a ten-day business trip and have had to run like mad in between meetings to find stores that are still open.”
Checking into her hotel later that afternoon, Apostolou was informed by the receptionist that other guests had been plagued by the same problem and that many of them had not received their baggage by the time they checked out many days later.
According to the airline, the problem began on Thursday of last week when a technical failure knocked out the baggage processing system at Heathrow Airport.
Heathrow did not respond for comment.
"The situation has been as a result of an IT failure with Heathrow Airport’s baggage system in Terminal Five,” according to Euan Fordyce, a spokesman for British Airways. “The problem began on Thursday of last week, but there have been intermittent faults since then.”
The airline says that the system was back up and running on Monday, but they were still advising travelers to “carry essential items in their hand baggage as a precaution.”
The airline was quick to note that the baggage has not been “lost,” it merely “missed its flight.”
“We haven’t lost bags — they missed their flights and we are working hard to get them back to customers,” Fordyce told Yahoo Travel. ”I do not have a total figure, but it has been in the thousands, as the problem happened across a number of days.”
The airline does have a policy of reimbursing travelers for their “essentials” when a bag goes missing. This has done little to help Apostolou, who is currently overseeing production on the “Outlander” series in Glasgow and whose “essentials” included clothing for business meetings.
“The real issue is that when you’re traveling for business, you don’t have much time to find shops in a new city to replace things, so it’s been a stolen hour here or there to pick up a few items,” Apostolou said. “Because of the urgency, you can’t ‘hunt for bargains,’ so you’re just handing over money to get you through to the next day.”
“We reimburse for essential items, and this will be dealt with on an individual basis,” Fordyce said, noting that the airline was incredibly sorry for any inconvenience caused to passengers.
In order to expedite the returns process, some of the bags are traveling by road to the regional airports to be redistributed to affected passengers.
In the meantime, travelers should maybe consider that larger carry-on bag.