A shocking picture showing hundreds of suitcases at a Qantas terminal in Perth has captured the chaos of airports all around Australia as airlines buckle under the pressure of increased travel demands.
School holiday travel and the Easter long weekend have resulted in overwhelmed airports, with long queues and boarding delays. On top of that, a lack of staff has seen passengers struggle to reclaim their baggage days after their flights have landed.
Noami and her family were returning to Perth after a holiday in Queensland when they were told their baggage hadn't arrived with them after a stopover in Melbourne.
After spending the next day on the phone with Qantas trying to find out where their bags were, the family – and the airline it seemed – still had no idea where their luggage ended up.
"It was just infuriating," she told Yahoo News Australia. "There was no communication — no email, no phone call, no message, nothing.
"It was lost for days and [we stayed] home waiting, hoping that someone might deliver and it didn't happen."
Family found their luggage via Facebook
The frustrated family was eventually reunited with their bags — but only after they spotted a photo on the Qantas Facebook page showing a pile of suitcases at Perth Airport.
"My son saw this picture on Facebook of all this luggage piled up in the middle of the airport so I said let's go maybe our stuff is there too," Naomi explained.
"We went in there and found our stuff, we grabbed it and we left."
Naomi said the lack of security and the sheer amount of bags simply left there were concerning.
"There was no security, there was no one guarding it," she continued. "There was no one saying here's your stuff, there was nothing. We just went in there."
A woman, who didn't wish to be named, captured the image telling Yahoo News Australia she managed to find her luggage, but others weren't so lucky.
"We found the suitcase and the Perth airport [staff] were helpful," she said. "People were picking up their luggage from Monday from Melbourne there".
'Small number' of flights departed without baggage
A spokesperson for Qantas said Covid-related staffing challenges have continued and a small number of flights departed without baggage in recent days.
"Decisions were made to have these flights depart without baggage to ensure that customers could get to their destination and not face long flight delays or cancellations," Qantas said in a statement to Yahoo News Australia.
"This baggage is being put on later flights and we are then couriering bags directly to customers."
A spokesperson said the baggage at Perth Airport is supervised at all times by a Qantas employee to ensure they aren’t unattended and they have been working to clear the backlog.
"Qantas will operate a flight this afternoon carrying only baggage (no passengers) between Melbourne and Sydney with one of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners, helping move baggage that was unable to be carried yesterday," a spokesperson said.
"We really appreciate people’s patience and understanding and apologise for the inconvenience".
"A team of more than 200 head office managers is helping at Sydney and Melbourne airports over Easter as well as corporate staff in Brisbane and Perth."
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