WASHINGTON — Thousands of travelers who flew Southwest over the holiday are still missing their luggage. Airports around the country are filling up with unclaimed bags as the company’s CEO blames a breakdown in the system.
Amid cancellations and long waits at BWI airport in Baltimore, a sea of unclaimed bags continues to build.
“I’m on day five now of no bags,” said Bill Utasi, one of many Southwest travelers begging the question: How can I find my luggage?
“Southwest doesn’t have the ability for me to personally track the actual individual bag so I’ve just been tracking flights that come in from St. Louis, crossing my fingers and coming to BWI every morning to basically do the manual checking process,” Utasi said.
Gail Alm says she was told by staff to request her luggage online.
“I asked if we could request to retrieve our bags online and they said yea sure that’s perfect.”
But she soon discovered there was no way to do so.
“I tried to request online," Alm said. There’s no mechanism for that.
So our team attempted to reach out to Southwest ourselves. We were directed to call this number, 1-855-234-4654, located on the Southwest website. We called four times. The line was busy once, we were disconnected twice, and, another time, were on hold for an hour and 46 minutes.
A Southwest spokesperson says they are finalizing a resource to provide additional assistance to customers trying to get their bags.
And that, quote, “We will make every attempt to reconnect customers with their baggage at no cost to the customer – we will use shipping partners to return baggage, where appropriate.”
The issue has even drawn criticism from politicians and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
“From what I can tell, Southwest is unable to locate even where their own crews are, let alone their own passengers, let alone baggage," said Buttigieg.
According to the Department of Transportation airlines are required to compensate people if their bags are damaged, delayed or lost, up to $3,800.