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Airport chaos: Qantas, Jetstar passengers angry over lost baggage management

As cases of mishandled baggage in airports increase across the country, several Virgin, Jetstar and Qantas customers have spoken out online about their exhausting attempts to retrieve their lost luggage.

Some passengers have been left waiting weeks to find out where their lost luggage could be, while others face never seeing their bag again.

One of those passengers is New Zealander Stacey who boarded Qantas flight QF149 from Sydney to Auckland on the night of the June 20.

Stacey, who recently moved to New Zealand, was visiting her family in Sydney for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

But after landing back in Auckland, she realized her suitcase was not on her flight’s conveyor belt in the arrivals hall.

“I found out my bag was missing after our flight had already been delayed, so I only managed to clear customs at around 2.30am after completing the admin associated with the lost baggage,” she told news.com.au.

Stacey, along with three other passengers were left without their belongings. The former Sydneysider was assured her bag would be found and sent to her within the next few days.

Reassured that this would happen, Stacey boarded her second flight to the South Island without any of her checked baggage.

Three days later, Stacey received a voicemail informing her that her luggage had been found by Auckland baggage services from customs. She called back to supply the service with her address from ella but no one answered so she emailed instead.

“Since then, I have had no news on my bag. I have phoned and emailed Menzies at Auckland airport countless times. I have only received one automated email response on July 14 and generic Facebook,” she said.

Stacey has attempted to contact Menzies Aviation, a company that assists airlines with baggage handling, however has had few responses which she says haven’t been helpful.

“I eventually reached out to Menzies on Facebook. I received a message on July 15 saying a manager would contact me. That never happened,” she said.

News.com.au has contacted Menzies for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

Stacey’s bag contained thermals, jackets, toiletries, make-up and clothing, but what she is most upset about is losing the gifts she had received from her family.

Additionally, because her bag was overweight, she had to pay $NZ620 ($A550) in excess baggage fees.

“Everything I brought back was very important to me, including the gifts for friends and family friends in NZ and my essentials which I traveled with,” she said.

“It has been inconvenient without my essentials and the longer (my bag) has been missing, the more distressing it becomes given that these are items I use daily.”

After waiting 21 days in line with Qantas’ policy, Stacey has lodged an insurance claim but she says it doesn’t make up for the stress she continues to experience.

“That puts me at five weeks post the loss of my bag without all my essentials… I have sent multiple emails to Qantas and Menzies and simply do not get a reply,” she said.

“I completely understand the industry being under huge pressure at the moment, but I struggle to understand under what circumstances a month of no contact is acceptable service.”

Since news.com.au contacted Qantas yesterday, Stacey’s bag has been found and will be sent to her address, but not all passengers have been this lucky.

Curtis and his partner originally had booked a three-city flight from Sydney to Honolulu then on to Toronto, Canada.

However due to flight cancellations, their trip turned into a five-city journey, with their first connecting flight from Sydney to Melbourne booked with Qantas.

When Curtis arrived in Melbourne on June 29, the Jetstar crew informed him that the pair had only checked in three bags.

“We definitely handed over four of these. Jetstar told us that there were only three and that we could not do anything about it and to lodge a lost luggage request when we landed in Hawaii,” Curtis told news.com.au.

After logging two lost luggage requests, Curtis finally received a response on July 11 asking for his delivery address in case the bag was found before a second email of the same nature was issued two days later.

“The most insulting part of this email is that they indicate they are looking for the bag, but also asking if the bag had been returned to us which indicates to me they have absolutely no idea how to track it or where it is,” Curtis said.

Since this correspondence, Curtis is yet to hear about the whereabouts of his bag which he says contains about $6000 worth of items.

“My fiancee and I have relocated all our possessions from Sydney to Toronto to start a new life,” he said.

“We have come here with no jobs and instead of being able to focus on job applications we have had to spend numerous hours so far trying to contact Jetstar.”

“On top of that we are getting married in Toronto in 2023 and we were going to use this time to plan our wedding, but that has also been derailed by hours spent contacting Jetstar.”

Curtis said he is “empathetic” for the airline crew and understands that luggage does go missing however, he is disappointed in the lack of communication.

Just over a week ago, Qantas domestic and international CEO Andrew David said mishandled bag rates were at eight per 1000. Before the pandemic, this rate was seven in 1000.

Mr David told news.com.au that the airline has since seen improvements but it knows there is still more work to be done.

“Our cancellations and mishandled baggage rates are almost where they were pre-Covid. Our call center rate is better than it was pre-Covid. We know we’ve got more work to do on our on-time performance, though it is improving,” he said.

Qantas and Jetstar said there are a number of reasons that a flight may leave without a bag which includes weather conditions resulting in flight delays and bags missing connecting flights, as well as issues with baggage systems at airports.

The airlines also added that increased rates of flu and Covid-19 among staff is delaying the time it takes for a customer to be reunited with their bag.

“Everybody at Qantas is working extremely hard to get us to those standards that we hold ourselves to,” Mr David said.

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