The U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported on Wednesday that a lost luggage crisis across airports worldwide had worsened in recent weeks, highlighting the case of a woman who lost a bag containing the ashes of her deceased parents while traveling from Chicago to Dublin, Ireland. “American tourist Donna O’Connor, who traveled to Ireland on 30 June to spread the ashes of her late parents on a family farm, was separated from her bag containing them after a nine-hour delay,” the Guardian reported on July 20.
The Irish-American recounted her experience to Good Morning Ulster, a BBC News Northern Ireland radio show, on July 13. O’Connor said she flew from Chicago to Toronto via Air Canada and then changed flights for her journey to Dublin. O’Connor altered her travel plans so that she could work on retrieving her lost luggage after she arrived in Dublin. She visited the Dublin Airport every day for a week until she finally received a voicemail from Air Canada saying the airline had sent the bag containing the ashes back to O’Connor’s residence in Chicago. “It doesn’t help me to have it back in Illinois,” O’Connor told the Irish Independent on July 13. “I just feel emotionally spent.” O’Connor’s taxing ordeal is just one example among hundreds. Travelers across the globe have increasingly reported being separated from their baggage while flying in recent weeks. The Guardian detailed the phenomenon on June 20, writing: In April, almost six bags per 1,000 pieces of luggage checked in by passengers were at least temporarily lost by US airlines. It marked a 67% rise on the same month of 2021 after almost 30,000 flights in, out and within the US were also canceled this summer.
The rate of baggage mishandled across the world is also on the rise: up 24% last year, with 8.7 suitcases per 1,000 international passengers not arriving on time. Claims for stranded luggage have jumped 30% on 2019, according to insurer Mapfre SA, and amid high rates of delayed arrivals certain airports are reportedly seeing a tenfold increase in the amount of luggage arriving on the wrong flights. Elsewhere, some global luggage shipping services are claiming to have seen demand almost triple month-on-month as travelers opt not to check their bags. Australia’s top airline, Qantas, was losing “one in 10 bags” at its regional hub in Sydney as of July 20, according to the Guardian. Qantas’s lost baggage spike is believed to stem from its current staff shortages, including insufficient numbers of baggage handlers, after the airline “outsourced about 1,700 jobs during the pandemic in a decision later found to have been unlawful.” Qantas’s staffing issues are indicative of a wider problem plaguing the global airline industry as people increasingly book trips and vacations amid generally waning pandemic travel restrictions worldwide. Airlines that streamlined during the pandemic’s peak are struggling to get back up to speed.
The situation has caused logistical bottlenecks including severe delays when transporting checked luggage.
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