Qantas passenger waits three months for airline to return lost suitcase

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<p><figcaption class=Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

When Emma Bradley landed in Perth to visit her parents from her home in Wales, Qantas staff approached her and told her that her bag had been left in Singapore.

I wouldn’t see him again for three months.

Bradley spent about $1,300 replacing his clothes and other items after the June 3 flight, but said Qantas offered him only $120 in compensation.

Related: ‘Chicken or hen?’ Qantas abandons vegetarian meals on some domestic flights

Bradley said she spent her vacation trying to retrieve her missing bag.

“It just never came,” he said. “My month at home was calling Qantas every week, they’d say ‘you called the wrong department’ and I’d say ‘this is the number they told me to call’.”

Bradley went back to Perth airport several times to see if he could talk to someone in person, but no one could tell him where his bag was.

On August 24, two months after returning to Wales, she received a call from Qantas saying that the bag would be delivered to her parents’ house the following day.

“I was like ‘no, I’m in Cardiff’,” he said. “I got it in 24 hours.”

Bradley filed a compensation claim for the clothes she had to buy, and after two months of calling the airline, they offered her $120. She told them that wasn’t good enough and they closed her claim. To get any compensation, she now had to start the whole process all over again, she said.

“It’s frustrating, I could use that money – gas and electricity are so expensive.”

The national airline has been under fire for losing baggage since it outsourced around 1,700 jobs for ground staff at the start of the pandemic.

Miner Ash Divakaran frequently flies to work within Australia and said Qantas had lost his bag six times in the last six months.

“Most of the time it comes on the next flight, but that usually means I miss work the next day,” Divakaran said.

“The worst was in a [Melbourne to Brisbane via Sydney] flight, where they lost one of my bags for a week. Apparently he was sitting in Sydney and was not placed on the conveyor belt.”

Divakaran said she received $200 compensation for the week she lost her bag.

Related: Crisis in the skies: when will Australia’s aviation industry return to normal?

John Middendorf spent six weeks trying to locate a lost suitcase after flying Qantas before Virgin finally returned it.

Middendorf, who lives in Hobart, had been visiting relatives in the United States. He booked his ticket through Qantas, which partners with American Airlines.

When she landed back in Hobart, Qantas told her that her bag, containing a set of valuable newspapers, had been lost en route.

“For six weeks I tried to contact Qantas,” he said. “They wouldn’t recognize the file number, they would advise me to call customer service and set up a customer service request. All of this was unsuccessful.”

He said that every time he called he was asked to re-enter all the information, as no record of his previous calls was kept.

She ended up preparing three different requests before United Airlines, with whom she wasn’t flying, found her bag in Dallas and sent it home on a Virgin flight.

“Then I get these follow-up emails from Qantas, I try to tell them they found it, and I just get the email that says ‘your customer service email is invalid.’ I can’t even tell you they found the bag.

A New Zealand woman, who did not want to be named, said she had been waiting for her bag for nearly a month and, despite calling several times, had been contacted only once by the airline.

It flew from Auckland to Abu Dhabi, with a stopover in Sydney on August 25. When she landed, the Abu Dhabi baggage service told her that one of her checked bags had not been scanned when she boarded the plane.

She said she had been calling the airline every week since then, but had only received an email saying she was being investigated.

Related: Discouraged Australia: after losing the nation’s trust, can the Qantas brand recover?

“The Qantas number is very difficult to communicate,” he said. “The minimum waiting time for the call is 40 to 60 minutes.

“Once you go through, the staff can’t give solutions, all they said was ‘it’s a different department, I’ve sent all the details to the baggage team’ or ‘the baggage team will call you back in 15 minutes’ or ‘You must contact the baggage team through the customer service portal’.

In a statement, a Qantas spokesman said baggage loss rates for the first half of September had fallen below pre-Covid levels.

“The rate of lost bags at Qantas is now five in 1,000 passengers for domestic flights and six in 1,000 passengers for our international services,” the spokesman said. “Before Covid there were five out of every 1,000 passengers.”

They said they would apologize to customers who had lost their bags, but in some cases it was complex itineraries involving multiple airlines.

“In one case, luggage was lost with another airline before connecting to a Qantas flight. In the other case, there was a ticketing error that prevented the baggage from making its connecting flight,” the spokesperson said.

“We returned Mrs. Bradley’s luggage last month and are continuing to work on the return of [the New Zealand woman’s] Baggage.

“We will be contacting both customers to apologize for the inconvenience and discuss their claims.”

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