Canceled mid-air flights, lost luggage containing the groom’s suit and long hours on hold – you’d be forgiven for thinking these were the stories of irate Qantas customers, but national airlines like British Airways and Air Canada are public enemy number one in their respective countries too.
Recently – after more than 100 Qantas passengers were stranded in Dallas overnight – Australia’s national flag carrier released a statement stressing that the traveler chaos is rippling through the entire industry at international scale.
“As difficult as the recent spikes in travel to Australia have been, it’s worth looking overseas for comparisons,” a spokesperson said.
“Airlines and airports in Europe, the US and the UK are facing the same post-COVID hangover as we are, but the impacts (measured in canceled flights and long queues) are much worse.”
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This week, British man Farhad Eton-Ehtesham and his bride-to-be had just landed in Rome ahead of their Tuscan wedding when he received an email from British Airways saying his bag was missing.
“Everything that belonged to me was in that bag – honeymoon clothes, my wedding suit, my groomsmen’s suits, shoes, wedding pieces and bucket hats as place cards,” did he declare.
He was told it would be on the next flight, so the couple canceled a pre-wedding dinner with their guests in Tuscany to wait for luggage to arrive on the next British Airways flight. He has not arrived.
“A groomsman suit might not seem like a big deal, but that’s absolutely because you have to match the others,” he explained.
“It’s a level of detail that you picked out nine months in advance, tried multiple times, fittings, everything.”
The worst, he continued, was the national carrier’s customer service. He says British Airways sent the couple a message during the saga which read: “we are doing our best”.
But luck was on the side of Eton-Ehtesham. The bag arrived just hours before the ceremony, which he located in a “sea of luggage” at the airport by “total accident”.
British Airways announced last week that it had cut 10,300 flights between August and October, and 1,500 during the month of July, in addition to cutting 10% of all flights between April and October.
“As the entire aviation industry continues to face the most difficult period in its history, it has unfortunately become necessary to make further cuts,” a British Airways spokesperson said.
And it seems cancellations can happen at any time, even mid-flight. This week, three British Airways passengers traveling from the US to Edinburgh received an email saying their connecting flight had been canceled despite already being flown.
“One of your flights has been canceled and we have been unable to rebook your journey from LHR to EDI,” reads the email to passengers, which was viewed by Business Intern.
He did not give a reason for the cancellation.
“We are sorry for the change in your travel plans.”
The trio ended up taking a train to Scotland, but none of their luggage had landed at Heathrow with them. So they left with the clothes on their backs.
And they are far from the only ones. US airline Delta flew a plane to Heathrow to collect more than 1,000 lost bags that had been left at West London airport following a baggage backlog this week.
In Canada, the scenes are miserably similar. Air Canada lost so much baggage that someone dedicated a Twitter account to this, the page retweeting hundreds of people trying to track down their stuff.
“It’s been 21 days since you lost my luggage and you still haven’t heard back,” one passenger tweeted.
“I have over $6,000 worth of items in my luggage and have had to waste money unnecessarily on replacement items ever since.
“What are we going to do about it?” »
Among the retweets are two passengers who were each looking for lost car seats, a woman who was looking for her wedding dress and PGA Tour Canada participants who were trying to find golf clubs.
Two dogs in carriers were spotted sitting unattended in a sea of Air Canada luggage at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport by a passengerwho asked when they last received water as the heatwave in North America continues.
Travelers have taken to attaching AirTags to their luggage to ensure they can locate it in the chaotic baggage claim halls of Canadian airports. Bluetooth trackers are connected to a person’s smart device and act as a homing signal.
An Air Canada spokesperson acknowledged that “the global airline industry is currently challenged by issues with airports and third-party providers of services such as passenger screening, customs and air navigation. “.
“We are working hard with these partners and governments to address these issues as they affect airline performance,” they added.
Since yesterday, just under a quarter of flights (23%) to Vancouver in the west of the country have been canceled, while 15% of flights from the airport have been cancelled, according to the FlightAware tracking service.
Approximately 48% of Air Canada flights are delayed.