How bad is the baggage crisis? On Tuesday night, the Divas 3 vocalists aboard the Celebrity Apex cruise ship staged their opening show in the only dresses and high-heels shoes they could rustle up in Rotterdam in the hour before the vessel set sail for Warnemunde.
The checked baggage of the talented trio – and that of a good few passengers who shared the same flight from Los Angeles to Amsterdam – is somewhere between California and the Netherlands, while they are docked in Germany.
Musically speaking, the Beautiful South surely created the anthem to lost luggage: “Rotterdam or anywhere – Liverpool or Rome?”
The odds are that the three singing superstars will be reunited with their bags in Stockholm, Helsinki or Copenhagen. Most misrouted baggage eventually catches up with the owner. But the chances that the luggage you entrust to global aviation might stray are alarming.
During 2022, airlines collectively misplaced 26 million pieces of luggage, according to the aviation communications organisation Sita.
You, like me, might find that a difficult number to contemplate. So instead, imagine 50 cases per minute going astray. Or, if you prefer, visualise three passengers from every wide-bodied plane watching the carousel turn in vain – and slowly realising their baggage has not accompanied them.
This week Sita’s head of baggage, Nicole Hogg, reported that handling has improved this summer. She told the BBC: “The trend started to sharply improve from May to the end of July 2023, with fewer bags being misplaced despite strong growth in passenger numbers going into the summer.”
Even so, business is booming at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. This department store for luggage that has parted company permanently from its owner is a fascinating location: a unique trash-to-treasures realm in which lost possessions gain a second life. But behind every garment, device and piece of jewellery on sale lies a story of sadness and stress.
In the hope of reducing the chance that your worldly goods will make their way to the emporium at 509 West Willow Street, I shall spell out how you can maximise the chances that you will be separated from your bags.
Then, perhaps, you might choose to do the opposite.
Disregard the cabin baggage allowance. Some people exceed the airline’s hand luggage limit and pay a fortune….