Exclusive report by Deborah McAleese
Air passengers’ missing suitcases have been discovered dumped in a bin at Dublin Airport.
Photographs obtained by UTV show several opened cases in a bin for disposal outside a warehouse packed with lost luggage.
Airlines and ground handlers at the airport are dealing with 4,200 missing or mislaid bags, as the industry struggles to deal with post-Covid travel.
The shocking photographs, taken by a concerned whistleblower a few days ago, raise questions over how lost luggage is being managed.
After being shown the photographs by UTV, Sky Handling - one of the baggage agencies operating at Dublin Airport - said the luggage was disposed off for health and safety reasons.
In a statement, a spokesman said: "There have been a handful of cases where bags which have not been recovered and which contain perishable items which are attracting vermin, whereby the bags have had to be removed to be destroyed for health and safety reasons.
"But the passenger file is updated with those details to allow a claim to be processed.".
Frustrated holidaymakers have been taking to social media to ask for advice, having struggled to contact their airline or baggage handler.
Athlete Katie Kirk and her husband lost their luggage as they returned home from honeymoon via Dublin five weeks ago.
After seeing the images of suitcases in a bin, Katie said: "It just makes me really angry, those are someone’s possessions, you don’t know how much they mean to that person.
"Given the current economic climate and the cost of living crisis, people can’t afford to replace those things. It’s really not fair.
"Our luggage is not lost, it’s simply that they don’t have the staff or the capacity to search for that bag. It is literally sitting in a warehouse – or maybe in a bin.
"There are things in my suitcase that are from my wedding, things I wore at our wedding
"That was a really special time for us that we want to remember and it’s just really sad for us to think we won’t be getting those things back."
Sky Handling Partner said the company had 2,897 passengers’ bags at the airport.
Another ground handler, Swissport, said it had 100 bags. Aer Lingus said it was dealing with 1,200 items across its European and North American networks.
Sky Handling has started to let passengers visit their warehouse at the airport to check for their luggage themselves.
UTV was denied access to film at the facility.
Lisa Young travelled from Galway to Dublin yesterday to look for her missing cases - they could not be found.
Lisa said: "There were about six people ahead of me and I queued for about 20 or 25 minutes.
"Overall the experience has been horrific. I just want to know where they are.
"At least if I knew that I could start working on it from there, but at this stage I have no idea where they are in the world."
Travel journalist Simon Calder told UTV the aviation industry needs more experienced staff in roles.
"The situation at Dublin Airport is terrible, but it is typical of the terrible summer of 2022," he said.
"There simply aren’t enough experience professionals in the right place in the aviation industry to deliver the service that people have the right to expect.
"It’s very clear what your rights are if your luggage goes missing. After three weeks you are entitled to claim the value of the contents if you can prove it up the value of about £1,000.
"But of course people just desperately want their bags back. Almost all of them will turn up eventually, it’s just so frustrating for people who are simply wanting to go on holiday and come back with there stuff."
Yesterday, Irish politicians were told by a member of staff at Sky Handling that luggage is building up faster than the company can redirect it to passengers.
"It’s like climbing a sand dune," they said.
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