With March Break fastly approaching, airports will soon be packed with travellers hoping to finally get away from the snow and icy conditions, especially after the heavy snowstorm we experienced on Friday.
Here at home, however, Pearson Airport has been the centre of chaos when it comes to flight cancellations, delays, and baggage claim issues. Most recently, the common dilemma shared amongst Pearson travellers is the latter. The situation has gotten so troublesome that many have resorted to using Apple AirTags to track their baggage, but even with this clever tool, travellers are still experiencing baggage issues.
Based on Pearson Airport’s website, lost, delayed or damaged baggage can only be dealt with through the airline you have flown with. Greater Toronto Airports Authority spokesperson Tori Gass tells Now Toronto, “baggage is a shared responsibility in that Toronto Pearson builds and maintains the in-terminal baggage system. But our staff do not normally handle bags.”
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“…Airlines and their contractors own everything else about baggage. They are responsible for staffing check-in counters and baggage handling, for placing bags in the system correctly, for taking bags on and off planes, and so on,” she added.
Some travellers have taken to Twitter to express their frustration with Air Canada in particular.
In response to these complaints, Air Canada tells Now Toronto that they recognize the problem at hand and that it is inconvenient for customers, but they strive to do their best to ensure owners are reunited with their bags as quickly as possible.
“Oftentimes, when bags are delayed it is because the outside identifying tags become detached as they are being handled or moved through airport conveyor systems,” the airline says, adding that this has been a reoccurring instance in recent high-profile cases involving trackers designed for privacy reasons, so owners can track their bags but third parties cannot use the tracker to identify the owner.
In contrast to Air Canada’s reasoning behind these baggage issues, an employee who works as a Baggage Systems Operator at Pearson Airport shares a different story to Now Toronto. According to this employee, the problems stem from the pandemic.
“I think it just started with the pandemic and the lack of employees/manpower that was there when the pandemic first hit. They essentially let everyone go that had an idea of the baggage system. Bags can get lost in the system naturally but if you have enough manpower you can’t locate/track the bag down a lot faster,” the source said, while wanting to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.
When COVID-19 began in 2020, numerous airlines were forced to make layoffs due to the lack of flights and travellers. Now, as a result, this employee claims there are not enough employees to accommodate the terminals. They say a small number of employees were operating baggage claims during the first two years of the pandemic and it was only last summer that they started hiring new employees and asking past ones to return.
“The new employees who were recently hired have little knowledge of the baggage system compared to past employees. Employees don’t know how to handle this situation because they’ve never experienced something like this before” they said. When it comes to lost baggage in the system, they added it’s “carelessness on the baggage handler’s part because the tag information on the bag tells you specifically where it needs to be.”
They believe that the solution to this problem is hiring more workers and increasing the manpower in the system in order to locate and track bags down faster.
For now, as this problem continues to be a concern amongst travellers, Air Canada is strongly advising customers to add any form of identification inside their baggage. They say it can be as simple as a business card or a piece of paper with a name and phone number. Given this, it’s safe to say that AirTags might be a good idea for Canadians with plans on travelling, as a closer eye is firmly needed on personal belongings.