The widely reported travel disruptions at German airports this summer is also having disastrous consequences on luggage transportation.
Understaffing on airlines and at airports means that passengers’ luggage is often being loaded onto the wrong plane, gets lost or is simply not checked in properly.
As a result, tonnes of bags are piling up in arrivals halls up and down the country and passengers are sometimes having to wait weeks to get their belongings returned to them.
According to Bild newspaper, 5,000 suitcases from Lufthansa passengers alone are left behind at Frankfurt Airport every day. Some of these bags are now being transported by truck to Munich Airport because there is more capacity there to deliver the luggage to its owners.
Last Friday, a Frankfurt Aiport spokesman said: “At peak times, there is a four-digit number of pieces of luggage at the airport that have to be forwarded on to passengers.”
A tweet by Welt newspaper on Sunday also showed thousands of bags waiting to be sorted at Düsseldorf airport.
— WELT (@welt) July 17, 2019
Staff shortages at Munich airport are also leading to luggage pile-ups.
The airport is currently short of 160 baggage workers and the employees who are still there are currently overworked.
One German travel website even reported a story about a family returning from the US to Munich who spent three weeks looking for their lost luggage – only to spot it in a newspaper report about chaos at the airport.
A spokesman for Berlin Brandenburg Airport, Jan-Peter Haack, told Bild that stranded suitcases in the capital’s main airport are sometimes even disposed of, for example, if travellers are carrying food in their luggage and it begins to smell.
What should you do if your luggage goes missing?
Firstly, you should go to the baggage claim desk at the airport and fill out the so-called ‘Property Irregularity Report’.
If the counter is closed, this can often be done via the airline’s website, or you can visit the counter in person the next day.
You should also report the problem to your airline as soon as possible. If you’re travelling with multiple airlines, make sure to notify each company to be on the safe side.
If your luggage is found again, the airline will usually bring it home to you. If the airline does not provide this service and you have to pick up your luggage at the airport yourself, you can have the travel costs reimbursed; including parking costs.
If your luggage does not turn up at all, you are entitled to compensation – up to €1,395 per passenger.