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Last Updated: Friday, 25 July, 2003, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
'We have no clothes to wear'
Robert and Nicola Ramsey on their wedding day
The Ramseys were married in the Seychelles 13 years ago
A British couple set to renew their wedding vows in the Seychelles have been forced to borrow outfits to wear to the ceremony after their luggage was left behind at Heathrow in the wake of the BA staff walkout.

Nicola and Robert Ramsey said the airline had told them they could either travel without their suitcases or stay behind, so chose to go ahead with their holiday thinking their luggage would soon follow.

BA said 18,000 bags were left in secure containers at the airport as staff worked to clear the backlog of passengers stranded after the weekend chaos.

By 0930 BST on Friday 3,000 suitcases were still waiting to be despatched to their owners, but a spokesman said the airline hoped to have cleared the remaining luggage by the end of the day.

Mr and Mrs Ramsey, from Gloucester, said they had thought they would be reunited with their luggage within "a couple of days" of arrival, but had received no indication of when it would be coming.

I've got such a wonderful dress in my case and my husband hasn't even seen it
Nicola Ramsey,
angry holidaymaker

The owners of their hotel had loaned them a suit and a dress to wear for the ceremony to mark their 13 years of marriage, but Mrs Ramsey said they felt "angry, frustrated, very, very upset and absolutely desperate" about their situation.

"The thing is it's not my dress - I've got such a wonderful dress in my case and my husband hasn't even seen it," she told BBC News.

"We've spent two hours on the beach, that's all we've had... because we've been walking round the town trying to find some clothing which we just can't get.

"In the Seychelles you can't buy decent clothes. If we were in New York, if we were in Italy, then you'd be able to buy nice clothes but you can't do it here, there's not the quality of clothes to buy.

"I've just bought a little suit, shorts and a little top, and a swimming costume - that's all I've bought."

'Keep receipts'

A BA spokesman admitted some passengers may not have been aware they were travelling without their luggage.

"The most important thing was to get as many passengers on to planes as quickly as possible," he said.

"To ensure that happened a decision was taken on some flights not to load all the bags.

All we can do is apologise profusely to people for the situation
British Airways spokesman

"In order to keep the operation going and prevent any more disruption, flights went as near as damn it in their slots as we could manage."

Because there had been thousands of passengers waiting both inside and outside the airport, in some cases there had simply not been enough time to process them, get them through security and get them and their luggage onto the aircraft.

Within 24 hours of Friday night, everyone should have their luggage back, the spokesman added.

"All we can do is apologise profusely to people for the situation," he said.

The consumer watchdog for the airline industry is advising passengers who have been left stranded without their bags to check their travel insurance policies and keep receipts for necessary items they have been forced to buy.

'Added insult'

James Fremantle, industry affairs adviser for the Air Transport Users Council, added that if travellers did not receive enough compensation from their insurers, they should ask BA for compensation.

Heathrow Airport
The luggage was left behind as BA tried to ease the chaos

"Baggage claims made through insurers are quite often small," he said.

"If you don't have your luggage for three days you might spend 100 on clothes and toiletries, whereas some insurance policies might only allow for 20 or 30."

He said airlines were liable for provable damages from delay to baggage, with the usual allowance being about 25-30 a day.

"It's adding insult to injury - not only to be delayed, but then to go off on holiday without your baggage,

"It does happen when airlines are desperate to get people off on planes.

"BA are usually quite good about dealing with compensation claims. We would hope they would give compensation for reasonable expenses."

The BA spokesman said there was no "hard and fast rule" on compensation for delayed baggage.

He said some people would be able to claim on their insurance policies, but "there may be a degree of compensation from BA".




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