British Tourist’s Experience Becoming Commonplace As Airline Industry Struggles With Staffing Issues
A British tourist was left in Cancun without luggage for a week as staffing shortages continue to ravage the airline industry. Problems are anticipated to continue for several months as the issues are resolved.
British tourist, Leon Deacon, had traveled to Cancun on June 15th to enjoy a solo trip in the Mexican Caribbean. Flying in from Manchester Airport with popular low-cost carrier TUI, Deacon was met with the sinking realization that his luggage had not made the trip with him.
Upon informing TUI representatives that his luggage was nowhere to be found, he was instructed to email their help desk. Most bags in this situation are found on the same day, or within a couple of days. Generally, human error has found them placed on another flight or left at the departing airport.
Unfortunately for Leon, the help desk didn’t reply to him or six days, forcing him to try and enjoy his vacation with one set of clothes, no phone charger, or any other essentials. In moments like these, airlines typically offer funds to help buy clothes while the luggage makes its way. But with no communication for almost a week, Leon found his relaxing holiday turned into an uncomfortable experience. Reluctant to buy new clothes as his luggage could appear at any moment, he spent the better part of the vacation in smelly clothes.
He was eventually given enough money to buy one extra set of clothes but was still alternating on a day-by-day basis.
When the luggage eventually turned up, there was little in the way of apology or compensation for the problems. “I booked the holiday to come and relax, and this has turned it into a disaster”, said Deacon. “I couldn’t relax, couldn’t go out and enjoy myself because I had smelly clothes basically. I didn’t get any updates or help from TUI – not even a set of clothes or an email to say it has been delivered or its whereabouts.”
Generally, Leon’s experiences wouldn’t be news. Problems like this do occur in isolation on a regular basis. But his problems with TUI in this case are representative of a much larger issue that is currently enveloping the entire airline industry.
As travel makes its surging comeback, airlines are scrambling to cope. Carriers and airport handlers all let thousands of staff go during the pandemic, unable to pay salaries as the entire industry ground to a halt. Now, so-called “revenge travel” is emerging as the world opens up. No airline could have certain when the recovery would begin and now the industry is struggling to restaff.
Pilot shortages have seen masses of flights canceled across the world and dwindling handler numbers have left airports in chaos as bags don’t make it to their designated planes. Passenger numbers are increasing on a daily basis with this July 4th weekend set to be the busiest since before the pandemic, and with it, increases the chances of delays, cancellations, or baggage issues.
Part of the problem stems from the extensive security procedures involved in new hires. The process of being employed in an airport, even for a baggage handler, can take as long as three months. Background checks, extensive interviews, and other lengthy administrative processes mean it’s never as easy as just hiring someone new. The agencies administering the checks are backlogged by as much as six months putting further curtails on the airline plans.
Many airlines are tackling the problem by cutting local domestic routes while airports themselves are placing operational capacity limits, forcing carriers to cut certain flights.
It’s likely the problems will persist for a few more months at least, and passengers should make themselves aware of the risk of flying currently. Downloading any airline apps and keeping tabs on flights is extremely important. If it’s possible, fly with only carry-on luggage and if checking bags, ensure no valuables are stored in them. An extra few sets of clothes in carry-on bags could help ease a stressful situation considerably.
Travel Insurance becomes extremely important and could be the difference between being fully compensated for a ruined trip and adding a financial loss to the disappointment.
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