Speakers Corner: Reports of missing luggage on the rise

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Flying during a pandemic is anything but easy. Masks are required, there are COVID questionnaires and if flying internationally, COVID tests. Add another headache, lost stuff! An increasing number of people reached out to Granthshala after their checked bags went missing!

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Granthshala spoke to at least 10 people who have flown over the past few months. They either took a long time to get their lost luggage back or their bags were not returned yet.

“We feel helpless,” said Luis Bracamontes, who is from New York City but had a connection in Toronto for a flight to Mexico City. That flight was back in July and he is still waiting for his bag, which contains clothes and expensive items.

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“The whole process has been beyond frustrating,” he said.

David Smith of Owen Sound flew direct to Edmonton to meet his son for a golf trip in August. His golf bag never arrived and to this day he has no idea where it is.

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“They still haven’t come and it bothers me. The dollar value is high enough for what I can remember.”

Kayvan Sarfejoy of Vancouver is one of the lucky ones. He got his stuff back, but said he would have to work full time to make it through.

“They kept telling us it was coming but it never happened. We had to call them several times over the days to remind them that we were still waiting. You have to be Sherlock Holmes and try to find your stuff.” Gotta do it.”

All passengers at Granthshala spoke to Air Canada and said it was very difficult to get a response from the airline.

“We can’t get a straight answer on what the process is right now,” Smith said.

“Either you find it and you have a clue where the stuff is or you just admit you lost it,” Bracamontes said.

He joins many others raising their voices on social media. They all complain not only of lost luggage, but also of Air Canada’s response to finding their bags.

“They (Air Canada) are not admitting that they lost my luggage. I need proof that they lost my luggage so I file my claim for my credit card insurance,” Bracamontes said.

Those who reached out to Granthshala said that catching someone from Air Canada on the phone is like pulling a tooth.

“I know we’ve called 18 times. It usually takes an hour and a half to wait on the phone to talk to a real person. Our conversation will probably last a few minutes once we’re connected, where’s my golf bag There’s no clear answer to that,” Smith said.

Granthshala contacted Air Canada for a response. We provided luggage tracing numbers and flight information for those who spoke to us. A spokesperson did not address the specific lost luggage cases we asked, but acknowledged that there has in fact been an increase in delayed baggage over the past several months.

“This is primarily related to the increasing number of passengers, new and constantly changing regulations, as well as the complexities associated with these changes,” said Peter Fitzpatrick. “As we resume our business after COVID, there have been some processing delays and we are working to address these.”

He said, despite being rare, goods get lost.

“This is usually due to mishandling during connections with other carriers and even as a result of theft at incoming airports and we work with the police,” Fitzpatrick said.

Experts who follow the aviation industry agree that the real problem is the staff.

“They just don’t have the resources,” said John Gredec with the Aviation Management Program at McGill University.

“Air Canada in particular is in a hiring dilemma with customer service and back-end staff.”

Gradec said airlines, like the hospitality industry, have struggled to bring back enough people at pre-pandemic levels.

“They hired enough pilots and airplane mechanics—which are essential to safety but lack in other areas, including baggage handling.”

Gradec suggests that anyone with a lost or misplaced bag should contact Canadian Transportation Agency.

“They will follow up with the airline,” he said.

He also suggests that everyone who is going to check bags should take pictures of their luggage before flying.

At least you have a record of what’s in it. If your luggage is lost you can make a claim with the airline. There are limits, but anywhere between $400-$800 for a lot of things.

While compensation will help the people we spoke to, at this point in time they just want answers.

“At what point can I decide whether I should go out and buy new clubs?” Smith said.

“Luggage gets lost, I get it. What’s not right is how they’re treating their customers,” Bracamontes said.

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