Whine Wednesdays: Repeated Issues With Frankfurt Airport Baggage Distribution System, New Incident Causes 30,000+ Bags To Be Left Behind

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Our Whine Wednesday for this week is Frankfurt Airport and their constant issues with the aging baggage distribution system responsible for moving the passengers checked baggage throughout the airport.

Airport Operator FRAPORT had problems with the system for months now and a most recent incident that occurred on the 28th of September caused 30,000 bags to be left behind in Frankfurt.

Some passengers are still waiting for their baggage to this day and tempers have been flying high over these ongoing technical issues at Germany’s largest airport that apparently can’t seem to get it’s act together.

Lufthansa was one of the airlines whose passengers were impacted the most and the airline published this notice on their website:

On Saturday, due to the breakdown of the FRAPORT baggage conveyor systems, around 30,000 pieces of baggage could not be transported on Lufthansa flights from Frankfurt.

By October 1, approximately 20,000 pieces of baggage had still not reached their recipient. Lufthansa is working flat out to get the baggage to its destinations. Passengers were informed of the missing baggage on departure and told to contact baggage tracing directly at their destination. On LH.com, Lufthansa offers the possibility of registering the missing baggage so that the guest can then track the arrival of the piece of baggage. Before an online tracking is possible, the baggage must be inserted into the central lost baggage system. According to FRAPORT, by Wednesday morning, 2 October, all uncarried baggage will have been recorded. In case an online tracking is not possible at the moment, Lufthansa asks to repeat the search entries a few hours later.

Wherever possible, Lufthansa delivers the baggage directly.

Lufthansa regrets the inconvenience for their guests.

30,000 bags for Lufthansa alone is a massive number considering the amount of passengers per flight. Considering passengers are entitled to compensation in the form of emergency purchases. Lufthansa will have to pay out this compensation to passengers and then likely claim it back from Fraport as their system breakdown was responsible.

Not sure why Fraport has such problems with their baggage distribution. When I arrived in the early morning hours two weeks ago there was also a malfunction and baggage delivery took over 1 hour.

In German media the Frankfurter Neue Presse (see here – in German) writes that Fraport handles 120,000 pieces of baggage daily and the system has been installed in 1972.

An airport spokesperson disputes an earlier estimated published by the Bild Zeitung that this incident cause a multi million Euro damage which Fraport will have to pay for. To me this estimate sounds about right if most passengers are making use of their rights and claim emergency purchases.

Conclusion

Frankfurt Airport is now a patchwork of different systems, buildings and terminals. The maintenance overall can only be described as shoddy with open ceilings, broken escalators, burned out lights and smelly washrooms. In summary: An embarrassment.

Hopefully the passengers affected are soon reunited with their bags. Until then they should definitely buy whatever they need and claim the cost with Lufthansa or the carrier which operated the last portion of the itinerary and issued the PIR.

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