Airports, boom of suitcases left on the ground (and of jets flying with passengers only): this is what is happening The case of Bologna


Airports, boom of suitcases left on the ground (and of jets flying with passengers only): this is what is happening The case of Bologna
Written by aquitodovale

Planes that take off only with passengers chased by planes that take off only with suitcases that – to tell the truth – represent model travelers: mute, do not ask for a glass of water and do not occupy the toilets. They are also tossed about without protesting, they do not even complain if the unwary owner has pressed a form of camembert between his vests and slippers that is now walking around asking for news of the tomato sauce which is not doing very well.

An unprecedented tragicomic carousel is in full swing in the European skies, with thousands and thousands of luggage parked at the least worst possible where possible in the airports and in the airports, even the largest, it is no longer known where to put that growing tide of suitcases condemned to be reunited with the angry and then desperate travelers well past the end of the vacation.

This happens: overwhelmed by the unexpected boom in post-pandemic requests, airlines and handling companies (ie the companies that “handle” baggage from conveyor belts to aircraft holds and vice versa) have raised the white flag. Simply, with the organic calibrated on the desert caused by Covid, they are not able to manage the traffic of these weeks of holidays in which the pandemic is pretended to be over. And strikes are only a small part of the problem which is now essentially structural.

And so the passengers get on, but they don’t have time to load their baggage. The plane leaves, otherwise, after too many delays, you risk losing the slot (the place in the arrivals and departures board) and then, when possible, you load a plane with suitcases only and make it take off in pursuit of the passengers. Tourists or business travelers who in the meantime have queued up biblically (imagine 150 or 300 passengers per plane who find themselves on vacation or on a mission with the clothes they have on them) to fill in the lost baggage form (which is actually “lost” is not) at the Lost & Found office of the destination airport. A desperation.

But almost always that suitcase is like Achilles who will never reach the tortoise, that is, your master. Holidays now last for a long weekend, a week, two if it goes for luxury: too little for the luggage to rejoin the traveler.

Tragicomic: the tourist has arrived in the holiday resort and then, perhaps, after a week, he has already returned home. His suitcase? He is late, trudges on the tapes, collects dust in the corridors and so he arrives near the beaches and umbrellas when the owner is back in the office. And then begins the wait for another “baggage only” flight to take the unused suitcase home. God forbid your flight made a stopover in London, Amasterdam, Brussels or Frankfurt: the main European hubs where the situation is like the end of the world.

And this if we do not get in the way of strikes by the personnel of the companies or the handling staff who in the last two years have also developed a strong desire to assert their rights with respect to wages and treatment and duties. Among other things, in the event of a flight cancellation, both the passages and the baggage remain on the ground.

Refunds for these insults? Uncertain, scarce and certainly even more late than flights and suitcases. Even worse if you have flown with low cost airlines. And not everyone can follow the logical and obvious advice of the Minister of Infrastructure Enrico Giovannini: «Fly only with hand luggage».

“A return to normal was expected in 2024 – they say from Bologna Spa Airport where arriving passengers divide the corridors with a patchwork carpet of suitcases hundreds of meters long – but in reality in this June we registered a plus 2.4 passengers compared to 2019, our record year with an annual transit of 9.4 million travelers. Instead in January 2022 it was still 50% less than in January 2019. It is clear that such a rapid surge has overwhelmed airlines and companies handling that had almost eliminated the activity during the pandemic. Moreover, in many European countries there is no redundancy fund and therefore it was not physically possible to quickly summarize personnel because then to work in an airport the procedures are not quick “.

But what will become of that mountain of suitcases that besieges a port like the “Guglielmo Marconi” of Bologna, usually among the most efficient and fastest in Europe?

“In recent days, British companies, even the” flag “ones, have begun to fly planes loaded only with suitcases in an attempt to dispose of those on the ground and reach the owners. Each baggage is taken over by the Lost & Found office which catalogs and provides it with a sheet of paper stuck with adhesive tape to remember the date of arrival and company. Then the owner, again through the Lost & Found office, should be able to understand where his luggage is and to agree, with the help of the airline, for the return and any refund “.

Ugly that image, for the Marconi as for the other Italian and European airports, of all those suitcases piled up in the corridors: one has been there since 2 July, who knows what happens to the owner after such a long separation.

“Of course, it has been like this for two weeks now – they continue from the management company of the Bologna airport – and, believe us, we don’t even know how many suitcases there are, but at the same time, we have nothing to do with it”.

In short, are you too “victims” for that – let’s say – thousand of derelict suitcases?

“Put it as you want, yes, we face the justified anger of the passengers who, however, have to take it out only with the airlines and handling companies. Imagine that, as far as we are concerned, we have hired 80 seasonal workers in these days just to deal with the boom of travelers “.

The airline is always known – at Marconi there are about fifty of all levels in business – but the handling company is already a less frequented entity. Since 2009, handling has been managed by the bell in Bologna “Gh Italy” (the most powerful among the Italian ones, sixty years of activity, we read on the site) which also deals with the airports of Naples, Catania, Palermo, Bari, Brindisi, Cagliari, Florence, Venice, Verona, Turin, London Heathrow, London Luton and Birmingham.

It is this company that also deals with the Lost & Found service, but there have been no responses to multiple attempts to get in touch with it in Bologna (left the contact details to kind employees) and in Naples. Taking the line, as you will imagine, is not even as easy as you can imagine thinking of that army of suitcases waiting for a master or an “exclusive” flight.

Paolo Ricci Bitti


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