Qantas passengers wait three months for the airline to return lost luggage

Qantas passengers wait three months for the airline to return lost luggage

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<p><figcaption class=Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters

When Emma Bradley landed in Perth to visit her parents from her home in Wales, she was approached by Qantas staff and told that her bag had been left in Singapore.

She wouldn’t see it again for three months.

Bradley spent about $1,300 replacing her clothes and other items after the June 3 flight, but said Qantas offered her only $120 in compensation.

Related: “Chicken or chicken?” Qantas is dropping vegetarian meals on some domestic flights

Bradley said she spent her vacation trying to find her missing bag.

“It just never came,” she said. “My month at home I was ringing Qantas every week, they were telling me ‘you’ve called the wrong department’ and I was like ‘this is the number they told me to call’.”

Bradley went back to Perth airport several times to see if she could speak to someone in person, but no one could tell her where her bag was.

On August 24, two months after she returned to Wales, she received a call from Qantas saying the bag would be delivered to her parents the following day.

“I was like ‘no, I’m in Cardiff’,” she said. “It came to me in 24 hours.”

Bradley filed a claim for compensation for the clothes she had to buy, and after two months of calling, the airline was offered $120. She told them it wasn’t good enough and they ended her claim. To get any compensation, she now had to start the whole process again, she said.

“It’s just frustrating, I could use that money – gas and electricity are so expensive.”

The national airline has been under fire for losing luggage since it outsourced around 1,700 ground staff jobs at the start of the pandemic.

Miner Ash Divakaran, who flies frequently for work in Australia, said Qantas had lost his bag six times in the past six months.

“Most times it comes on the next flight, but that usually means I miss the next day’s work,” Divakaran said.

“The worst was on one [Melbourne to Brisbane via Sydney] plane, where they lost one of my bags for a week. Apparently it was sitting in Sydney and was not put on the assembly line.”

Divakaran said he was compensated $200 for the week he lost the bag.

Related: Crisis in the skies: when will Australia’s aviation industry return to normal?

John Middendorf spent six weeks trying to find a missing bag after flying with Qantas before it was finally returned – by Virgin.

Middendorf, who lives in Hobart, had been visiting relatives in the United States. He booked his ticket through Qantas, which partners with American Airlines.

When he landed back in Hobart, he was told by Qantas that his bag, which contained a set of valuable records, had been lost en route.

“For six weeks I tried to contact Qantas,” he said. “They would not recognize the file number, they would recommend that I call customer service and set up a customer service request. All of this was fruitless.”

He said that every time he called he was asked to provide all the information again, as no record was kept of his previous calls.

He ended up making three different requests before his bag was found in Dallas by United Airlines, which he did not fly, and sent home on a Virgin flight.

“Then I get these follow-up emails from Qantas, I try to tell them it’s been found and I just get the email saying ‘your customer service email is invalid’. I can’t even tell them that they found the bag.”

A woman from New Zealand, who did not want to be named, said she had been waiting for her bag for almost a month and, despite calling several times, had only been contacted by the airline once.

She flew from Auckland to Abu Dhabi, passing through Sydney on 25 August. When she landed, she was told by Abu Dhabi’s baggage service that one of her checked bags had not been scanned when she boarded the flight.

She said she had called the airline every week since, but had only received one email saying it was being investigated.

Related: Desperate Australia: Can the Qantas brand bounce back after losing the nation’s trust?

“Qanta’s number is so hard to get through,” she said. “The minimum waiting time for the call is 40 to 60 minutes.

“When you get through the staff who are unable to provide solutions all they say is ‘it’s a different department, I’ve forwarded all the details to the baggage team’ or ‘the baggage team will call you back within 15 minutes’ or ‘you have to reach the baggage team through the customer service portal.

In a statement, a Qantas spokesperson said lost baggage rates for the first half of September had fallen below pre-Covid levels.

“The number of mishandled bags on Qantas is now five in 1,000 passengers for domestic and six in 1,000 passengers for our international services,” the spokesperson said. “Before Covid, it was five out of 1,000 passengers.”

They said they would apologize to customers who had lost their luggage, but in some of the cases these were complex itineraries involving multiple airlines.

“In one case, luggage was lost with another airline before connecting on a Qantas flight. In the second case, it was a ticket error that prevented the luggage from making the connecting flight, the spokesperson said.

“We returned the luggage to Bradley last month and are continuing to work on the return [the New Zealand woman’s] luggage.

“We will contact both customers to apologize for the inconvenience and discuss their claims.”

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