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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 July 2007, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Heathrow works to clear bag delay
About 23,000 bags were being handled a day to clear the backlog
Extra staff at Heathrow Airport are working to clear a backlog of thousands of bags after last week's terror alert.

Despite 100 volunteers and other staff being drafted in, British Airways (BA) passengers are waiting "at least a few days" for their luggage to turn up.

The airline blamed the alert at Terminal 4, recent bad weather and the terror attack in Scotland but unions said it was due to staff shortages.

BA said it hoped to have the backlog cleared by the end of the week.

Passenger Sheila Astill, who arrived from South Africa one week ago to attend a wedding, has had to buy clothes and other essential items while waiting for her luggage to arrive.

They have ruined a weekend I was planning for over 5 months now
Lawan Hawizy, BA passenger

In an e-mail to BA chief executive Willie Walsh she said: "I need to know, now, where my baggage is and when you will return it to me.

"You, as chief executive, have the responsibility to do this - you cannot allow this appalling incompetence to continue."

Lawan Hawizy flew from Dusseldorf to Edinburgh, via Heathrow, on Thursday to attend the T in the Park music concert the next day.

On Saturday his bags had still not turned up.

Record bag numbers

He said: "They (BA) give me a telephone number that's always busy. They have incompetent and very uncompassionate staff at baggage handing.

"They have ruined a weekend I was planning for over 5 months now."

In 2006 BA lost an average 3,000 bags a day, the most of any European airline, according to the Association of European Airlines
In December 2006 fog and a baggage system failure led to cancellations and a massive backlog
In August 2006 terrorist alerts and subsequent delays resulted in a backlog of 20,000 items
In 2003 BA came top of the a list of bags mishandled by European airlines put together by the Air Transport Users Council

A statement from BA said the airport's already stretched infrastructure had struggled to cope with record numbers of bags, driven by the hand baggage restrictions introduced last August.

This, it said, had been put under more pressure by disruptions caused by the terrorist attack in Scotland and a security alert at Terminal 4 last week.

BA denied the problem was the result of a lack of manpower.

A spokesman said: "The majority of delayed bags which are currently at Heathrow are transfer bags, where they have missed their onward flight.

"We have been handling 23,000 transfer bags at Heathrow per day with processes and systems which were designed to handle around 18,000 per day."

Traveller speaks of his distress at lost luggage

BA tops lost luggage league table
04 Apr 07 |  Business
BA to charge 240 for extra bag
08 Feb 07 |  Business

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