On 30th July 2014, Gatwick Airport made an announcement to warn passengers about the expected baggage chaos that would last for the duration of the weekend (01/08/14 – 03/08/14. During the previous weekend, passengers were faced with up to five hours of delays in order to retrieve their baggage due to staff shortages. Some passengers were waiting several days to receive their luggage. Therefore, to prevent this from happening again over one of the busiest holiday getaway weekends, London Gatwick Airport hired over 100 extra workers to ensure that the thousands of holidaymakers were not faced with the same level of chaos. In addition to Gatwick hiring extra staff, the baggage handling firm Swissport that was at the core of the problem also agreed to hire 40 additional staff members in a bid to avoid a major fiasco. Only Swissport staff are legally allowed to unload baggage from the aircrafts, however the extra staff will be able to help shuttle the luggage from the runway to the terminal baggage reclaim. Swissport provides baggage handling to 27 major airlines including British Airways, Thomas Cook, Thomson, Monarch and Virgin Atlantic which is why this dysfunctional service is not acceptable. The problem that the baggage handling company had is that their staff are on zero-hour contracts meaning that many people were unwilling to work at weekends and at anti-social hours such as nights and early hours of the morning. Members of Parliament have threatened that if the company does not shape up then it could potentially be stripped of all duties at Gatwick Airport. This means that the company could lose out on handling 700 flights a day.
Gatwick reported that arrivals were the main problem area during the previous weekend, not departures. So there shouldn’t be a problem with bags not being loaded in time. Where Swissport keep failing time and time again is with the delivery of baggage to the arriving passengers as1 in every 20 bags are not delivered on time. Monarch Airlines terminated their contract with Swissport from Birmingham, Gatwick, Luton and Manchester Airport. Other airlines are expected to shortly follow as Swissport are continuously failing to meet the agreed standards. It’s not even as if Swissport is the only available option easyJet, Aer Lingus and Turkish Airlines all use the baggage handling company Menzies while Emirates and Norwegian Air use Aviator (no problems have been reported).
Members of the transport committee have said that passengers whose bags have been heavily delayed flight should be rewarded with compensation. Passengers have rights when it comes to flight delay compensation EC regulation 261/2004 outlines these rights. The regulation applies to flight delays and cancellations and allows passengers to claim 250, 300, 400 or 600 Euros worth of compensation (if the delay was 3 hours or more). The amount of compensation granted all depends on the length of the delay and the length of the flight.