On a short hop from Frankfurt to Geneva, every single checked bag aboard LX1082 was lost. Although the bags were recovered two days later, the situation was a personal reminder of the Covid hangover still roiling European airports.
The following situation occurred following a SWISS flight from Frankfurt to Geneva (LX1082) to go skiing with friends.
Confusion at GVA
We touched down in Geneva at 10:15 AM and taxied to a bus gate. Due to a slight delay on the tarmac, our bus arrived at the terminal around 10:45. I made my way to carousel three in the baggage claim area and saw on the monitor that bags from Frankfurt were delayed coming out. 30 minutes went by and our bags hadn’t arrived. Another half an hour passed–still no bags.
After another half hour, more than two hours after landing, nobody had given us an estimate of when the bags would arrive or an explanation of why the bags were delayed. I made my way to the baggage tracing office and, after waiting another half an hour to see a member of staff, was informed that due to a baggage handler shortage, our luggage was still on the plane and that it should be another 30 minutes before they arrive. 90 minutes later, more than three hours after our flight landed, an employee finally emerged from the Swissport office and delivered the following announcement:
“None of your bags were on the plane out of Frankfurt. We cannot do anything for you at the airport, so leave the airport and lodge a claim online.”
Three big problems
I have three pretty big problems with how this whole situation unfolded.
- The fact that our plane left Frankfurt without a single passenger’s checked bag is really bizarre. I’ve flown well over a thousand flights in my life and I’ve never before been in this situation. I’m not sure how exactly this could’ve happened but it seems likely that understaffing played a part. Something similar occurred last September on an Iberia flight from Manchester to Madrid where there simply weren’t enough baggage handlers to load the plane so the flight took off with an empty hold. As opposed to a single bag getting lost, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where nobody on the ground knew what was going on here, so it’s extra frustrating. On the other hand, I sympathize with how hard it’s been for airports and airlines to deal with staff shortages amid resurgent travel demand, so my frustration is tempered considerably.
- No attempt was made by airport staff to explain the situation to passengers during the two hours we waited in the baggage claim area. The only way anyone could’ve known what was happening was if they’d walked into the Swissport tracking office, waited in line, and enquired.
- The baggage claim area at Geneva Airport, has 16 seats total (about two seats per luggage carousel) and effectively no wi-fi. I use the word “effectively” because while there is technically wi-fi coverage from a network tantalizingly called “Free_WiFi_GVA,” in order to get the password, passengers must scan their boarding passes at a well-hidden machine outside the baggage claim area. Once you leave the baggage claim area, you can’t reenter, so this basically means you’re stuck without wi-fi while you wait for your bags.
Though this was one of the stranger and more frustrating travel experiences in recent memory, all’s well that ends well and, two days after they were lost, my bags were recovered and delivered to me. I was also compensated for the emergency supplies I had to buy. I’m going to write a separate article on exactly what I did to remedy the situation quickly, so look out for that.
Finally, I want to be clear that I think commercial air travel is a miraculous logistical feat, and I don’t take for granted the hundreds of thousands of incredible people behind the scenes who make it possible. At the same time, I think it’s important to call out subpar customer experiences like this so that the industry continues to move forward.