A Swiss plane arrived in Bilbao, Spain on Saturday without a single piece of checked luggage on board.
Passengers reportedly waited more than two hours for their bags to appear on the airport conveyor belt but they never arrived.
Those on board say the pilot apologised for the delay but did not explain the reason or inform them that their luggage hadn’t made it onto the plane, according to Swiss newspaper Blick.
The passengers claimed that, when they arrived at their destination, Swiss Air staff also didn’t tell them where their bags were. Instead, they had to wait until staff from Spanish airline Iberia informed them that the plane had landed with no luggage on board.
One passenger, Carsten Redlich, told The Blick that his holiday was “ruined” because his bags had been left behind. He was part of a group of paraglider pilots travelling to Spain together, and the mishap left them without their vital equipment.
Why didn’t the luggage make it to Bilbao?
Swiss Air has confirmed that that flight from Zurich took off without the passengers’ luggage.
Spokesperson for the airline, Kavin Ampalam told French news agency AFP that a crew shortage had led to the problem.
They had waited in Zurich for the situation to be rectified but after “one hour and 16 minutes, the situation was still unchanged and, for operational reasons we decided to fly to Bilbao without the baggage”.
The flight couldn’t wait any longer, Ampalam said, because passengers needed to be picked up in Bilbao and the aircraft returned back to Zurich before the airport closed for the night at 11pm.
Swiss Air couldn’t confirm whether passengers had been notified of the decision to leave their luggage behind but said it regrets the inconvenience caused to customers.
"We're still analysing the situation to find out exactly what happened,” Ampalam said, “this shouldn't happen.”
How often do airlines lose luggage?
In 2022, lost luggage figures reached a 10-year high with around 26 million bags going missing. That is eight out of every 1,000 pieces of luggage - almost double the number that got waylaid in 2021.
Shortages of skilled staff, a rapid return to international travel post-pandemic and congestion at airports were to blame, according to a report from aviation IT provider SITA.
It found that Europe was the worst continent for lost luggage and bigger airports with more passengers had the worst problems.