The mammoth task of reuniting passengers with their luggage

Departing without luggage was often the only option for those wishing to leave for their holiday destinations from Zaventem airport, near Brussels on Saturday. They were told that their luggage would be forwarded on to them as quickly as possible. However, doing this is easier said than done. 

The luggage that was left behind lay piled up in the airport’s departure hall. All available staff were called up to help take the luggage left in the departure hall away on trollies.  The airport’s Director of Operations Lode Ketele told VRT News that this is necessary “as there is always a risk. This is luggage that has not yet gone through security checks so we don’t know what exactly is in it”.

Meanwhile, the mammoth task of sorting the luggage and figuring how just how many suitcases need to be returned to their rightful owners got underway.   

On Saturday night two planes left carrying luggage that had been left behind. On Sunday work to reunite the thousands of people forced to leave their luggage behind with their suitcases will continue.   

It won’t be an easy task, not least because today is yet another exceptionally busy day at the airport with 89,000 passengers, most of whom with luggage, expected.

As planes are currently fully booked it isn’t an easy task finding space for the extra luggage.  

"At times like these airlines show each other solidarity”, Mr Ketele added.

Brussels’ Airlines’ Spokeswoman Nathalie Pierard told VRT News “Every avenue is being explored, even taking the luggage to other airports so it can leave from there”.

The chance that luggage reaches its rightful owner quickly is greatest with destinations to which there are several flights a day. However, there are only a couple of flights a week to some destinations. There the chance of that passengers will be reunited with their luggage quickly is far more remote.

Brussels Airlines says that it is taking a creative approach to the issue of the luggage its passengers had to leave behind on Saturday. For example, luggage bound for Corsica will be flown to Lyon where it will be taken by road to Marseilles and put on a boat to Corsica.     

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