Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Lost in action

Monday morning and I'm bleary eyed at the carousel. My fellow passengers, recently dispatched from the red-eye overnighter from New York, are all collecting their luggage and heading for the taxi rank. I'm still waiting. I bite my lip and decide to let it run around one more time, fingers crossed urgently behind my hand luggage. 
Still nothing. Seems the spoils of my exchange rate-defying shopping spree, tagged onto the end of a brief working trip, have been lost somewhere in transit.
My own brush with lost luggage came a few years back but it still lives with me. Thankfully, I was flying British Airways prior to the great Terminal Five debacle around this time last year and, after a few nervous days and a series of increasingly angry phone calls, my bags were returned safely to me.
Not everyone is so lucky. The European Union is planning measures to force airlines to pay fair compensation after the disclosure that 42 million bags failed to arrive on time in 2007. One million more went completely AWOL.
The consumer watchdog, the Air Transport Users Council (AUC), published the figures in a report this week and claimed that many airlines are trying to dodge fair compensation for lost bags, sometimes paying just ten per cent of the actual value.
The watchdog Passenger Focus also announced plans this week to start naming and shaming poor-performing UK airports as part of government-backed measures to improve the often grim conditions at Britain's busiest air hubs. A similar scheme has helped improve rail services.
So, as the backlash against air travel continues on the grounds of both convenience and environmental concerns, will these announcements lure us back to Heathrow?
Or have we already made the mental leap and, after yet another 20-minute slog between terminals and an overpriced coffee from an anodyne chain cafe with all the welcome of a wet weekend in Birkenhead, vowed to stay short haul this year and travel in the relative comfort of the Eurostar?
This Friday on the Duncan Barkes programme we will be discussing your lost luggage and vision-of-hell airport experiences. 
Tune in from 10.15 am. Send me your comments and I'll put them on air.


  1. Weirdly I was quite impressed with Heathrow Terminal 3 on this last US trip. The security was fast and efficient, yes I used both of those words in the same sentence! There was of course the rudeness of the check-in person, who I am sure is the same person with cunning disguises at every airport I have ever been to.
    US airports on the other hand, well what can I say?
    Except for Vegas of course, where you can gamble your money instead of sipping the pricey yukky coffee!

  2. I'll take your advice next time I'm leaving La Vegas. Ditch the Starbucks and blow the change from duty free on a hand of Blackjack. I like your style.