/ Travel & Leisure

The merry-go-rounds of the luggage carousel

Holiday hassles illustrations

Hundreds of you have complained about luggage issues via our campaign. Gatwick passengers were subject to delays at the baggage carousels last weekend, and the case may be the same this weekend…

Last weekend, passengers of four airlines faced long delays waiting for their luggage to appear on the carousel. Many were advised to go home without their luggage after some passengers waited five hours to be reunited with their bag.

We had a look at the Twittersphere to see how the Gatwick baggage delays have added hassles to your holidays.

Matthew was just happy to be reunited with his bag as British Airways arranged for it to be sent to his home address:

Melanie was less than impressed:

And Edielen was down-right angry:

There are murmurings of similar delays expected this weekend, and an Abta spokeswoman said it was a good idea to keep essentials close to hand:

‘We hope people can pass through Gatwick smoothly this weekend. But if people are concerned, it would be a good idea for them to put essential items in their carry-on bags.’

Gatwick confirmed it isn’t expecting delays but has taken some precautionary measures:

Our Which? Consumer Rights site has a step-by-step guide about what to do if the airline had lost or damaged your bag. But, unfortunately you don’t have many rights if you have faced long delays waiting for your bags.

Have you faced severe delays waiting for your luggage? Do you think we should have more rights when it comes to luggage delays?


When a passenger is unreasonably delayed, airlines often have to pay European statutory compensation of €250/400/600. There should be similar statutory compensation for delayed baggage in order to encourage airlines to prevent these unacceptable delays. I would suggest €100 for each hour that the baggage is delayed beyond the arrival time of the flight.


I wonder if I have some kind of record for lost baggage with no resolution?

I’ve just (day before yesterday) spoken to Which Legal service about a carry on bag that went missing in early 2010! SAS have been dealing with my claim since then and last week offered me a fraction of the sum.

Before departure the ground handlers insisted that I hand over my cabin bag, which was well within dimensions and weight and containing all my important and valuable articles which they promised to look after, which was then put in the hold. This was supposedly because Oslo airport where we were to change planes did not have facilities for examining hand baggage carried by transit passengers changing planes.

My bag never arrived in London. Now, four years later SAS is claiming that they are not responsible for whole classes of items in ‘checked baggage’ ignoring the fact that I did not voluntarily ‘check’ it and only allowed them to take it under protest and with the promise of it being cared for.

We will see what happens and I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime ensure that you NEVER allow SAS to take your bag and change its status if this remains their policy!


I sympathise with you. Airlines occasionally insist on taking compliant baggage away from people without taking full responsibility for the contents, and this is incompatible with most travel insurance policies.

I don’t believe a word of what SAS told you about transit security at Oslo airport, otherwise women’s handbags, the contents of one’s pockets and everything else that one is carrying would similarly be prohibited. It sounds as if an SAS representative was making it up as they went along in order to justify their unreasonable attempt to relieve you of your possessions.


Well, it looks as if I’m in for the long haul. SAS wrote today denying responsibility again saying that:

“As stated in our terms and conditions, it is the passengers responsibility to remove all fragile and electronic items before any baggage is checked in. As the items was not removed prior to hand luggage being checked in. Therefore SAS Airlines cannot accept liability in this instance.”

Of course they are completely ignoring the fact that I did not ‘check-in’ my carry-on bag, it was taken from me by them against my wishes, and I was not given any opportunity or permission to take anything out of it. Also, there were no ‘terms and conditions’ available on the departure deck whilst airside and actually walking toward the gate.

I think the problem was that Oslo did not have a working bag x-ray unit for transit baggage so they wanted to avoid time lost in manual searching . . . at my cost as it happens.

Still, all is not lost, I am a member of Which? Legal Service and had advice from the lawyer there so my response to today’s message which they said was a ‘final offer’ for the bag itself and a few items of toiletries and clothes – but not the electronic or valuable items that one normally keeps in hand baggage and which were taken from me under protest – was to say that I found their offer unacceptable and that they should consider my response to be a ‘letter before action’ giving them a week to settle.

We will see what happens. In the meantime I’ve circulated my clients with information about how I was and am being treated and am pleased to note that one company has begun to review its use of this carrier. I’ll keep everyone here posted on progress. As NFH and Brian have commented It really is time that the airlines had standards imposed for their baggage handling and liabilities.

By comparison in the USA in January during the storms when many aircraft were diverted my checked case flew to the wrong airport. Despite weaker consumer laws the airlines there seem to understand the effect that influence of disgruntled passengers can have. I was given emergency assistance, a change of clothes and shoes (two of underclothes and socks), toiletries and a modest ‘inconvenience allowance’. My case was hand delivered some 36 hours later.

Rather different to SAS who lost the bag four years ago and are still evading responsibility!

Brian D Allingham says:
3 August 2014

I stupidly left a jacket in an overhead bin in a flight arriving at Edinburgh. After several telephone calls, e-mails etc (some of them circular, eg phone this number, send this e-mail and you find yourself back where you started) my wife went to the airport Lost and Found department and recovered the item.

Why do airports and airlines not have a proper system for these items, which must be legion.


Referring to Martin’s dreadful experience above and comments in another Conversation about last minute attempts by airlines to re-dispose lugage before take-off, it seems that the whole question of compliant hand-baggage being removed from passengers and transferred to the cargo hold needs critical examination. I am convinced that this because of lax control of over-sized hand-baggage that has been admitted to the passenger compartment. I hesitate to suggest additional paperwork, but in view of the exclusions in insurance policies there needs to be some sort of transfer note by which the airline accepts responsibility for the security of anything which they request or require passengers to hand over for hold storage. Insurers need to adapt their policies [including both travel and home contents policies where relevant] to reflect this risk. Ideally this action by airlines will be an extremely rare occurrence but if it seems likely to become routine then airlines need to provide a separate secure cage within the hold for such baggage and that cage should be transferred securely to the arrrival hall where passengers can collect its contents [in exchange for the original transfer note] rather than just be tipped out with the rest of the luggage onto the conveyer taking it to the reclaim carousel. It is a temptation to anyone dishonest in the baggage-handling crew, or even waiting at the carousel, to pick up a small piece of hand baggage that is likely to contain valuable items. To ease the security screening process I usually put my keys, coins, mobile phone, and other pocket items in a small bag inside my flight bag which I expect to keep on the plane under the seat in front of me; this is probably no longer a good idea. At the departure gate the airline staff are usually trying to get the pasengers on the plane a.q.a.p. in order to avoid delay penalties and I can imagine people being pressed to surrender their hand baggage without time to think much about the contents or without having any other quick and convenient way of carrying their fragile or valuable items onto the plane. Aparrt from anything else, the cargo hold is not maintained at cabin temperature and some items could suffer damage as a result of the chilling and reheating that occurs. I hope Martin has a successful outcome to his claim; if it goes to court I think there is a case for aggravated damages because of the persistent prevarication and repudiation of liability over a protracted period that SAS has compelled him to endure.


Well, time is up for SAS (see above) and I guess we’ll have our day in court. They have not started well, just ignored me despite my pointing out in my letter before action that the court expects them to respond to my communications.

Also, when directly requested in writing they did not respond with a ‘service address’ for the court papers . . . the court won’t like that kind of arrogance / ignorance.

I shall write another email telling them that unless they give me the response that the pre trial protocols and practice directions require I shall also claim for the time that I spend in unnecessary correspondence and research.

What a bunch of chancers . . . I’ve been reading the reviews on the various travel sites and have come to the conclusion that SAS have lost their grip and have slid entirely down the pan! Strangely the two worst airlines i have dealt with in recent years have both been Scandinavian, the other was Finnair who threw my families bags into deep salty slush and would not even apologise! So much for the reputation of Scandinavian values!


Good Luck Martin. Hope you get a favourable resolution.
Airlines do need to be held accountable.