Frustrated Aer Lingus passengers say the airline left their luggage at Dublin Airport for almost two weeks after a flight from Dubrovnik was delayed this month.
Alison Haughton and Christina Marsh flew Aer Lingus from Dubrovnik to Boston via Dublin on July 1st. Her flight to Dubrovnik was delayed by 50 minutes, which Ms Haughton said was not Aer Lingus’ fault.
However, they had to wait 15 minutes to disembark in Dublin, although they had to connect to Boston. The staff assured them and their fellow passengers that their luggage would be taken to the US leg of their journey.
When they arrived in Boston, they and other passengers waited an hour and 37 minutes for their luggage, which did not show up.
Ms Haughton says it was at this point that they spotted an Aer Lingus employee who had known all along that the bags were not on the plane. “Even so, he stood there and didn’t notify the passengers,” she adds.
Aer Lingus then informed them that their luggage would be on the next day’s flight from Dublin, but by July 3 the airline had admitted that it did not know the location of the bags.
At that point, Ms Haughton says Aer Lingus staff advised her and Ms Marsh to make insurance claims as they “wouldn’t likely get the bags back”.
Ms Haughton drove to Boston’s Logan Airport in the days following her flight because she would not answer calls to Aer Lingus customer care.
When she arrived at the airport, several other passengers on her flight had the same problem.
“These passengers were from various other EU countries and flew to Boston via Dublin,” she adds.
Last Sunday, July 10, after three trips to Logan, she discovered the bags were at Dublin Airport.
She confirmed this Monday, saying the airline’s failure to forward the bags “stunned” its Boston staff.
Aer Lingus apologized to the customer for the delay in forwarding the bags. “Our team on the ground at Dublin Airport has located their luggage and it will be returned to Boston on EI 133 tomorrow, Wednesday 13 July,” the statement said.
The airline claims that baggage transfers are being hit hardest by labor shortages at ground handlers who carry out this work on behalf of airlines.
Aer Lingus says it has hired additional call center staff, aware of the long wait times. The airline also notes that problems at airports and with third-party providers, including ground handlers, are beyond its control.
“We apologize to our customers whose luggage was delayed,” the company says. “Our on-site team continues to work closely with all relevant handling agents to retrieve delayed or misdirected baggage as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Ms Haughton argues that Aer Lingus management is to blame for its problems, while front-line staff have to deal with passenger anger.
Separately, Aer Lingus chief executive Lynne Embleton was criticized by the Oireachtas Transport Committee for refusing to attend a hearing to discuss flight cancellation and delay issues.
Earlier in the committee’s Wednesday session, Chair Kieran O’Donnell said Ms Embleton had been invited to attend but “has declined to do so”. He said the committee wanted to discuss very serious issues affecting the public and that the refusal was “unacceptable”. He said the invitation would be reissued and he expected Ms Embleton to attend next Wednesday.
Mr O’Donnell said the committee is keen to begin a series of work to review the national aviation strategy and that the committee is “here to help solve problems in the aviation industry”.
A spokeswoman for Aer Lingus told the Irish Times that representatives were unable to attend due to “unavoidable existing commitments”.
“Aer Lingus offered to attend a committee meeting at a later date and to provide written answers to any specific questions from the committee before that meeting,” she added.
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