During the last weeks in the trains and buses of London was an advertisement with few citizens who declares that they reached their destination without delays but they had to wait for at least 2 hours in order to wait for their suitcases. These are the lucky passengers because there are passengers who reach their destination but they have lost forever their suitcases.
According to a well- known airline “At least 10,000 bags checked in by a well-known passengers have gone missing at airports since the UK security alert began” It also said half of them were still piled up at airports waiting to be delivered back to their owners.
Recent figures from the Air Transport Users Council (AUC) show passengers and their luggage are parted to the tune of 30m lost bags a year.
The AUC points out that 85% of bags are reunited with their owners within 48 hours. But what happens to the remaining 15%?
What a passenger should do after he realizes that he lost his suitcase? Initially it should get in touch with the airline desk, to inform them that his luggage is missing. Present baggage receipts and describe his bag. Take a copy of the paperwork, a telephone number and the name of a supervisor before leaving the airport. Ask about expenses to cover essential items: some airlines offer cash on request.
Two days later: By now, 85% of lost luggage is back with its owners. Keep receipts for essential purchases made during this period and get progress reports if your bag hasn’t been located.
Twenty-one days later: According to the Montreal Convention, your luggage is now officially lost. You are entitled to a maximum of £820 compensation from the airline, exclusive of any other sums paid, but you could do better claiming on travel insurance.
But what is going on with all these lost suitcases? If, after three months, the airline hasn’t traced the owner, they come to auction houses such as Greasby’s, in Tooting, south London. About 1,000 unclaimed items pour into Greasby’s each month. Shoes, electricals, valuables, and accessories are removed from the cases and sold separately; the cases themselves are sold sealed, containing only the clothes.
In case that you still want to try to find your suitcase… the addresses are:
• Greasby’s auctions are held every Tuesday, at 10.30am, at Longley Road, Tooting, SW17 (020 8672 2972, www.greasbys.co.uk ).
• Other lost-luggage auctions take place at Wellers Auctions (01932 568 678, www.wellers-auctions.co.uk ) in Guildford and at BCVA (0117 9533676 www.dnfa.com/bcva ) in Bristol
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