After two years of lockdowns, the travel industry is struggling to get up and running. Even as travelers struggle, the industry in the US and Europe has been plagued by a wave of missing luggage.
The NY Post reported that in April, nearly 220,000 checked bags among U.S. airlines were lost, damaged, delayed, or ripped. This represents a 135% increase from the same period in 2021. Baggage complaints made by consumers against the U.S. and foreign airlines increased by 619% over the past year. Total consumer complaints about airlines were up by 147%.
The airlines are blaming the baggage handling difficulties on staffing problems.
A spokesperson for Berlin Brandenburg airport told the NY Post, “At the major hubs, there are currently delays in baggage handling due to staffing problems. … Due to the staffing situation at the airports there, the baggage can‘t be unloaded, sorted, and reloaded in the next plane in time.”
Staffing problems are affecting the entire industry. Business Insider recently reported that British Airways is canceling over 10,000 short-haul flights to and from London airports this summer. Last week, Scandinavian Airlines canceled about half of its flights after 1,000 pilots in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden went on strike. Other airlines trimming their summer schedules include Lufthansa and Delta.
An article in Hebrew-language Mako News reported that the lost-luggage epidemic arrived in Israel, with the contents of suitcases thrown in the trash and looted at Ben-Gurion Airport. In the video, suitcases were being loaded into a trash compactor while personal effects were strewn on the ground nearby.
According to the regulations set out by the travel industry, after 90 days, unclaimed luggage can be put up for auction. A Facebook group has been set up for owners of luggage lost from Ben Gurion Airport and already has over 3,000 members.