Script: Where's my suitcase?

Script: Where's my suitcase?

'In Town Today', a lifestyle radio show. The podcast is about something that concerns all travellers. What happens if our suitcase goes missing at the airport? It's a situation travellers dread, and it happens quite often. Why do suitcases go missing? Let's investigate.

Voice 1: Of the hundreds of thousands of passengers who have jetted away this summer either on holiday or on business many will have lost their luggage. Why does this happen in these days of high technology? And how are passengers reunited with their bags?

Voice 2: Airlines like to boast about their efficiency and comfort, and how travelling with them is a pleasant and stress-free experience. Stress-free? Not if you're left standing at the airport luggage carousel an hour after your flight has landed and all the other passengers have picked up their bags and gone.

Voice 1: And there you are, facing your business meetings or two weeks on the beach wearing only the clothes you have on your back now. It's a nightmare situation that happens only too often.

Voice 2: But it has to be admitted that during the last eight years, airlines have become better at making sure bags arrive at the same destination as their owners - and at the same time. For every thousand travellers who take to the skies today, there are seven point three mis-directed bags compared to eighteen point nine in 2007. But why can't airlines get it a hundred percent right?

Voice 1: About half the bags that go missing are lost or mis-directed while being transferred from one flight to another or between airlines.

Voice 2: But this is not the only way that bags disappear. A large number arrive at the correct destination at the right time, but are then picked up by accident by passengers at the carousel. The world is full of black suitcases that look exactly the same. The new trend towards brightly coloured cases is very welcome, as long as everyone doesn't suddenly decide to buy a new bright yellow case.

Voice 1: So, what happens if your bag isn't on the carousel after you have been standing there for an hour getting more and more anxious? You present your luggage number ticket (which hopefully you haven’t lost) at the baggage desk. The number is put into World Tracer, a software system dedicated to reuniting lost bags with their owners.

Voice 2: Usually the lost bag is found immediately. Maybe it didn't make it onto the departing flight, was wrongly labelled and ended up at the wrong airport, or was too slow in transit to make a connecting flight.

Voice 1: If the bag isn't found straightaway, the reference number, the physical description of the bag (always remember what your suitcase looks like!) and the route it has taken so far and should have taken are fed into the system to find a match. This can take some time, but usually the bag is traced and reunited with its owner.

Voice 2: But all the software systems in the world can't help a traveller stranded for hours or sometimes days without his suitcase. Paul Wong, a Hong Kong-based accountant, flew from Bangkok to London in July last year. He travelled via Paris and landed at Gatwick which is the busiest airport in Britain after Heathrow.

Voice 1: When he arrived in England, his bag was missing. It didn't appear on the computer screen. But an efficient baggage handler at Gatwick searched the airport's lost luggage area, and found Paul's bag in another airline's pile of luggage.

Voice 2: 'That guy took the trouble to look around and not just look at the computer screen.' Paul told us on the phone yesterday. 'It's such a stressful thing. You really feel you are going crazy when your bag goes missing.'

Voice 1: So the next time you fly, let's hope you are not one of the unlucky few who get to their destination and find their bag missing. Bon voyage!

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