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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 04:48 GMT 05:48 UK
Lost baggage: Advice for air travellers
Gatwick airport
Flights are returning to normal - but baggage is still a problem
More than a week after the police announced they'd disrupted a credible plot to attack transatlantic airliners in mid-air, services are gradually getting back to normal.

There is still likely to be some disruption.

And on Friday, BA said that some 20,000 bags had been lost in the past week, but three quarters of those had now been returned to passengers.

Earlier this week on Breakfast:

  • We looked at what you can do to prevent your bags going astray.

    Lost baggage: what can you do?

    The British Airports Authority - BAA - says that individual airlines are responsible for the management and security of baggage.

    So, if your luggage does go missing, it's absolutely vital to report it straight away to the lost baggage desk at the airport.

    You'll need to fill in a form - but your bags may not be officially declared lost for three weeks.

    British Airways says it asks customers for the make, model and colour of their bags - and the receipt they were given at check-in.

    It then gives each customer a ten digit reference number, so they can check on the progress of their search either by phone or online.

    If a bag still hasn't turned up after 21 days, it's officially declared lost. And you then have a further week to make a claim.

    A more complicated question can be who pays for lost valuables?

    The airlines say their liability is limited by the Montreal Convention - to around 800 compensation per person.

    British Airways advises customers to claim on their own travel insurance. But many people may find that that their policies do not cover valuables put into baggage stowed in the hold.

    And British Airways' website also says it won't accept liability for valuables such as computers and jewellery which go into the hold - which could leave customers in a black hole.

    Alice Beer's tips

    You can never completely guarantee that your luggage won't go missing, says Alice, but there are some extra things you can do to help keep it safe:

    Alice Beer in the Breakfast studio
    Don't panic: your bags may well turn up, says Alice

  • Keep your packing list: you can use it as an inventory if the worst happens
  • Put a piece of paper INSIDE each piece of luggage with your name and contact details on it, in case the label falls off the outside of your bag (don't put your house keys in the same bag).
  • If you do need to go shopping on holiday to replace missing clothes, remember the compensation limit is 800: this is not a moment to go designer mad.
  • Consider a service such as Flymycase, which will transport your luggage anywhere in the world for a small fee.
  • If you're a British Airways passenger specifically, your absolute last chance might be to try the auction house Greasbys in Tooting, South London which sells off unclaimed BA luggage, among other things
  • And remember, only a tiny proportion of luggage is actually permanently lost each year: most cases are eventually reunited with their owners.

  • Hand baggage: what can you take?

  • Each passenger is permitted to carry one item of cabin baggage through the airport security search point.

    This must be no bigger than 45cm long, 35cm wide and of 16cm deep (17.7"13.7"6.2" approx) including wheels, handles, side pockets etc.
    You can take a bag like this on the plane

    Other bags, such as handbags can't be carried separately. They must go into the single item of cabin baggage. All items carried by passengers will be screened by X-ray.

  • You will be able to take books, magazines and electrical items like personal stereos.
  • But you are still not allowed to take liquids of any type in your hand baggage - except for:

    • Prescription medicines in liquid form which you need for the flight (eg diabetic kit), as long as verified as authentic.
    • Baby milk and liquid baby food (the contents of each bottle or jar must be tasted by the accompanying passenger).

    This includes gels, pastes, lotions and cans - for instance toothpaste, hair gel, drinks, soups, syrups, perfume, deodorant, shaving foam, aerosols

  • All laptops and large electrical items must be removed from the bag and placed in a tray so they can be seen properly

  • Pushchairs and walking aids are permitted but must be x-ray screened. Wheelchairs are permitted but must be thoroughly searched.

  • Passengers on transatlantic flights will be searched again at the departure gates. Any liquids, including those bought airside will be confiscated.
  • The Department for Transport say they will work closely with operators to introduce these new arrangements, seeking to keep disruption to passengers to a minimum. They say they will keep these measures under review.

    If passengers have any questions on their travel arrangements or security in place at airports they should contact the airport or their airline.

    Airport operator BAA has asked passengers not to bring hand baggage until the latest changes have been phased in at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.


    Delays and cancellations are still affecting flights, especially from the airports around London. If you're due to travel today, check with your airline or with the airport itself.

    Please note that the airports are saying that hand luggage won't be allowed until at least this afternoon.

  • British Airports Authority (BAA)
    This will give you advice on what's happening at London Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted airports. It also has links for Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Southampton.
  • The Security Service
    MI5, has now downgraded the threat level to its second highest.

  • British Airways

  • British Airways has cancelled 39 short haul and five long haul flights from Heathrow today. It's also cancelled all its domestic flights from Gatwick. You can find more on its website,

  • Air Transport Users Council

  • The AUC is the consumer watchdog for the aviation industry - it's part of the CAA's website

  • ABTA

  • The Association of British Travel Agents - ABTA - has information on its website regarding the disruption for holidaymakers.

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    Air travel delays: Your rights
    11 Aug 06 |  Breakfast

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