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08-15-06, 02:36 PM #1
10,000 bags misplaced at airports
10,000 bags misplaced at airports
Many passengers are still waiting to get their luggage back
Around 10,000 bags checked in by British Airways passengers have gone missing at airports since the UK security alert began, the airline says.
It said half of them are still piled up at airports waiting to be delivered back to their owners and it has issued an apology to passengers.
Other airlines have yet to announce whether they have suffered similarly.
Meanwhile police said another person had been arrested under terror laws in connection with the suspected plot.
BA is considering seeking compensation from airports operator BAA after being forced to cancel hundreds of flights.
BA boss Willie Walsh said BAA's management had had "no adequate plan" to deal with the emergency.
All UK airports have now relaxed the restrictions on hand luggage introduced following Thursday's terror alert.
BA has cancelled 700 Heathrow flights since Thursday after requirements to check in hand luggage caused delays.
The carrier has been forced to use trucks to ferry baggage left behind at Heathrow to destinations such as Manchester, Edinburgh and Frankfurt as well as using space in its own cargo aircraft.
BA said: "We fully apologise that customers have not been able to travel with their baggage on certain flights throughout the past five days of unprecedented circumstances at Heathrow.
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"This is due to a combination of issues with the BAA's baggage systems which have all contributed to the situation."
Analysts have speculated that lost revenues from flight cancellations could cost BA more than £40m, the amount it lost as a result of last summer's strike by baggage handlers.
BAA said the easing of restrictions - allowing passengers to take one small item of hand luggage - did not constitute a "return to normal" and passengers should still expect delays.
BA said the company should have been better prepared and hired extra staff.
"BAA had no plan to keep the airport functioning properly," Mr Walsh said in an article in the Daily Mirror.
The resulting queues resembled a "bad dream at Disneyland", he added.
BA said it would consider what action to take over areas where "it was held back from operating" once its services had returned to normal.
Passenger Michelle Brown flew into Heathrow then on to Edinburgh at the weekend.
She told BBC Five Live that only a handful of the 200 passengers on board her flight were able to pick up their luggage after they landed.
"The captain said there's two people on the plane that we've got bags for, but the people aren't here, they hadn't made the connection so we have to take the bags off," she said.
"So we waited about 45 minutes and they said we've got about 180 bags to sort through and then he said that's ok, we've found the two bags, we've taken them off and we're ready to go.
"So when we got up there, and there was no bags there, it was clear that they'd just taken them all off."
TUESDAY FLIGHT CANCELLATIONS
Heathrow - 47 flights, mostly BA, cancelled
Stansted - 8 Ryanair flights cancelled
Gatwick - 11 domestic BA flights initially cancelled but re-instated at 1230 BST
Airports including Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow reported as being mostly back to normal.
Returning to near-normality
'Nightmare of lost luggage'
The government announced on Monday that the terror threat to the UK had been downgraded from "critical" to "severe", meaning an attack is now considered highly likely but not imminent.
Passengers had initially been banned from taking anything into aircraft cabins except travel documents, baby food and certain medicines, all of which had to be carried in clear plastic bags.
But people are still not allowed to take in any liquids apart from baby milk and baby food, and prescription medicines.
Meanwhile, police investigating the alleged plot are continuing to search woodland near High Wycombe, while officers have also carried out searches at two internet cafes 18 miles away in Slough.
Twenty-four people are now in custody in connection with the suspected plot.
The latest person was detained in the Thames Valley area on Tuesday lunchtime, police said.
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