Recent Which? research has found that passengers who are unexpectedly made to put their hand luggage in the hold when at the gate, risk leaving valuable, uninsured items in an unsecured bag. But what if your bag goes missing when it’s in the cabin?
I frequently fly between Dublin and London, and hate queuing up to board.
This means I rarely find a space for my carry-on bag in the cabin’s overhead lockers and, if I haven’t volunteered for it to go in the hold, will have to store it far away from my seat.
True to form, on an Aer Lingus flight back to Heathrow a couple of years ago, I was one of the last to board.
The seat that had been allocated to me was by the window in the last row.
When my bag wouldn’t fit in the overhead lockers nearby, a crew member took it and stored it further up the plane.
When I went to track down my bag on landing, I realised that it, along with everyone else, had gone.
The crew helped me to look for it, but it was nowhere to be found.
Eager to not delay the next departure, the head crew member told me that the best thing to do was to speak to the desk staff in the airport.
On the ground
In the terminal, I explained the situation to the desk staff. However, they informed me that I should have stayed on the plane as there was nothing they could do but take my number and call me if my bag turned up.
Frustrated, I left the airport, thankful that my keys, phone and wallet were all in my handbag.
Later that night, I received a call from Dublin Airport – the bag had been on the plane the entire time and they’d flown it back to Dublin!
They then told me that, according to their cabin baggage terms, it was my responsibility to get the bag from Dublin to London.
Outraged, I set out to challenge the terms.
Getting it sorted
After many long conversations (and several tweets), the airline’s customer service team agreed that, in this case, I couldn’t be considered responsible for the bag as its crew had removed it from my possession.
As a goodwill gesture (and presumably to get rid of me), they agreed to put my bag on a plane back to London and have it delivered to me by Heathrow’s Lost Baggage team.
Holding out for the hold
Following that experience, I started agreeing to have my bag put in the hold if I was asked at the gate.
I figured it was safer because I had hold baggage rights.
Not so. Which? Travel research shows that if any valuables you put in the hold at the gate get lost, damaged or stolen (even if you were among the one in ten in our survey who was forced to by the crew), many airlines state in their T&Cs that they won’t compensate you for your loss.
Not only that, but your travel insurance might not cover it either.
I’m flying back to Dublin this week and I’ll be making sure I take my bag on board with me.