Aer Lingus baggage problems likely to continue for rest of summer

Irish airline cancels more flights on Heathrow route due to limits and illness

Problems that have delayed or mislaid Aer Lingus passengers’ bags may continue for the rest of the summer, however the airline says it is taking steps to improve the situation.

Aer Lingus cancelled flights over the weekend as Heathrow airport’s 100,000 a day passenger limit continued to bite, while illness or technical problems hit other services.

The Irish airline said it has increased resources, including hiring workers for call centres and redeploying staff to aid ground operations, to tackle problems with mislaid baggage.

Baggage problems have hit Aer Lingus and most other carriers as ground handlers and systems struggle with a surge in passengers that followed two summers of restricted travel due to Covid-19 lockdowns.


However, the Irish carrier believes that some difficulties could last a further four to six weeks, while peak holiday travel continues.

Aer Lingus workers handle bags in Dublin Airport. Contractors including Swissport and Sky Handling are responsible for this in overseas hubs. Third parties also handle bags in Dublin for carriers other than Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus says bags transferred from another airline or flight are most at risk. About 80 per cent of missing or mislaid bags are moving from another airline to an Aer Lingus service.

The bulk of those are “misconnects”, where a bag fails to make a connecting flight but arrives on the next available service.

Some bags never arrive in Dublin, where passengers connect to Aer Lingus services, so they do not enter the airline’s systems. However, it is still answerable to passengers when this happens.

A failure to update a global system for identifying and tracing mislaid bags regularly is aggravating the problem. Aer Lingus said much of the problem is out of its control but maintains it is working to overcome the problems where it can.

“Our team on the ground is continuing to work closely with all the relevant third-party handling agencies to retrieve delayed or misdirected baggage as quickly and efficiently as possible,” the airline said.

“We have redeployed staff from other areas of the business to support our ground operations team until the end of the peak summer travel period.”

The company is also working to accelerate the delivery of retrieved bags directly to passengers, which is usually done by transport companies.

Bags are considered “lost” when they are missing for 21 days. At this point, the Montreal Convention obliges airlines to pay passengers up to €1,661 in compensation.

Customers with travel insurance can also claim on their policies. Aer Lingus says it does not stop searching for missing bags once the 21 days have lapsed.

Aer Lingus advises passengers not to pack medication, passports or valuables in bags they are checking in. It also helps if your baggage is distinctive. Even a colourful strap helps, airline workers say.

Meanwhile, Heathrow’s limit forced Aer Lingus to drop a Cork flight and a Shannon service on Sunday. The airline axed its return Dublin-Washington flights on Saturday following a technical problem.

On Saturday illness led to the cancellation of a Dublin return flight to Faro, the popular Portugal sunspot. Aer Lingus reaccommodated half the passengers on the same day and the rest on Sunday.

The same reason led to the airline cancelling services to JFK New York and Philadelphia over the weekend.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas