/ Travel & Leisure

Air travel: can airlines do more when bags go missing?


A fault with Gatwick airport’s baggage system has left hundreds of passengers without their belongings. What can travel companies do to protect us against instances like this?

Another bank holiday, another travel nightmare. When you’re queuing at check-in your thoughts are normally a thousand miles ahead of you; in warmer climes sipping a pina colada by the pool.

Instead, this morning, passengers at Gatwick were caught in long queues at one of the busiest times of the year for the airport – their thoughts firmly fixed on their present predicament and how they were going to survive the first handful of hours, perhaps days, of their holiday with only the clothes they were travelling in to their name.

Baggage-less in Beirut

A similar thing happened to me a couple of years ago. Some friends and I decided to visit some journalist pals in Beirut. As a rather unusual destination, I was extremely excited for the culture shock ahead of me. Unfortunately, that would be overshadowed by the shock of not having a fresh change of clothes and toiletries for a full 48 hours.

Of course this is nothing on the scale of what has happened at Gatwick this May bank holiday, but it was still a huge inconvenience. I can only hope those caught up in the chaos don’t have to wait as long as I did to feel hygienic again.

I feel for those passengers flying to a destination where there may only be one daily flight operated by their airline. That’s what happened to me. The airline I used only flies in and out of the Lebanese capital once every day. My baggage wasn’t on the next plane so I had to wait another day.

Holiday hassle

Here’s one holidaymaker who’s only away for three days but who may not receive their luggage until closer to the time of her departure:

There’s nothing better than jumping into a shower and pulling on a fresh change of clothes after a long muggy flight. But because of the unfortunate circumstances at Gatwick today, lots of people won’t even be able to do that. So how can we protect ourselves from being caught out like this, and should airlines be doing more?

Has an airline ever mislaid your luggage? What happened? Should there be a back-up when airlines know we are in danger of being without our towel and trunks for quite some time in a foreign land? Perhaps we could be offered a free carry-on into which we can transfer our essentials before leaving the hold baggage at the check-in desk? What do you think?


Its isn’t just baggage problems of course. Delays getting through security can mean missing a flight. No compensation from the Airline if you are late at the gate so what can you do? The denied boarding regulations don’t seem to apply. It seems your only avenue is to claim against the Airport for negligence – perhaps via small claims.

We always have a change of essential clothes with us in our carry-on bags. It’s a good insurance policy because we have never had to resort to them. Most places we have stayed in provide adequate toiletries and there’s usually a shop nearby that stocks popular products. If we were without our baggage for more than a day I suppose we would have to hit the shops and buy some new underwear, tops and trousers. I think I would make a big sign to hang round my neck saying “Baggage still in transit. Please excuse attire.” [with Spanish – or whatever – subtitles, of course; “smell” can be substituted for “attire” if more appropriate]. It would break the ice at dinner time.