Prague Airport hit by luggage-loss chaos, flight delays

A huge amount of travelers in the past week combined with air-traffic control disruption and staff shortages have created a perfect storm for passengers. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 04.07.2024 11:31:00 (updated on 04.07.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

Passengers visiting or leaving Czechia after the start of the summer holidays have been met with disarray at Prague Airport amid long waiting times, missing luggage, and a lack of staff.

Travelers have needed to wait a matter of hours to claim their luggage after landing at the airport, according to reports. Additionally, Prague Airport has acknowledged that some planes have departed without some passengers’ luggage, causing chaos and confusion.

Low staff numbers, lots of travelers

“Flight space in major holiday destinations is congested. Travel agencies, airlines – everyone – have taken on too much, and airports lack employees. The Czech Smartwings airline, which is threatening to cancel flights, as well as big players such as Ryanair, complain about their dispatchers," aviation expert Vojtěch Očadlý told Czech media outlet Blesk earlier today. 

Multiple external factors have contributed to the issue of hundreds of travelers being left without their luggage. One of these factors is the overcrowding of European airspace, causing significant delays and traffic build-up during peak times, Jan Papež, chairman of the Association of Travel Agencies, told Czech media outlet

Last weekend was technically the busiest two-day period in terms of air travel, as hundreds of thousands of people in Czechia and Europe went on holiday after the end of the academic school year. Air-traffic control disruption, due to staff shortages and extremely hot weather a few days ago, have only served to exacerbate the situation across the continent. Further, outages in Terminal 1’s passport control system hampered the speed of passengers’ check-ins, only worsening the situation.

"I would like to apologize for the unprecedented situation” announced chairman of the Prague Airport board of directors Jiří Pos Wednesday afternoon. He referenced staff shortages as being partly causative of massive hold-ups and said that the airport was currently trying to secure part-time workers to help alleviate the delay. 

Pos said that around 1,600 pieces of luggage had been separated from their owners in recent days. The airport has hired a crisis-management team to help solve the situation. Anonymous employees complained to Czech news website of long shifts and poor pay, saying that a large proportion of bagge handlers at the airport would simply not show up for work. 

Readers tell us their issues

Deborah, who recently went through Czechia’s largest airport, spoke to about her ordeal. “I flew into Prague on Czech Airlines on a delayed flight last week. When we landed, we saw angry baggage handlers and were then told our luggage was delayed due to operational issues or possibly a strike. We filed a claim, but as of Monday night, our luggage still hasn't been found. It has been a frustrating and ongoing experience,” she told us. 

Another traveler also shared their travel trevails with "I had a two-hour wait for bags from Paris, which is completely the airport's fault. They don't have enough staff, yet they keep adding flights. If you had gone in when the flight landed to meet friends and parked in front, it would have cost you at least CZK 700 in parking fees,” said Chris.

Can you claim money back?

Are you entitled to compensation if your baggage is misplaced or – even worse – lost? The answer is yes.

In case your luggage is delayed between 24 hours and 21 days after your arrival, you can file a claim for reimbursement of essential expenses such as hygiene items or basic clothing, usually up to around EUR 50 (CZK 1,260) per day. This can be done at the baggage service or lost baggage counter; you’ll need your boarding pass and baggage slip. You may also file a lost-baggage claim at the Prague Airport website (or via the airline you were traveling with).

After 21 days, the luggage is considered lost and the airline may reimburse up to the amount of its contents and price, although proof of contents may be difficult. It is recommended to take photos and keep receipts. Travel insurance can also provide coverage for delayed baggage, with reimbursement for necessary replacement items up to a certain limit.

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