Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Dozens of passengers who arrived at Entebbe International Airport from Johannesburg aboard Uganda Airlines on Friday, are frustrated after learning that the airline did not load their luggage after check-in.
Under normal procedure, check-in bags are carried through a conveyer belt and sorted on the basis of destination, and flight number on the tag before being loaded in the underbelly of the plane. When the planes land, the airline’s baggage handlers unload the luggage and drive them to the baggage carousels for passengers to pick up.
But more than 50 passengers on flight number UR-711, that landed at Entebbe International Airport on Friday at 3:56 pm, told our reporter that they had either got some or none of their bags after waiting at the carousel for over two hours. They were told by baggage handlers that some of the bags were left at O. R Tambo Airport in South Africa.
One of the passengers told URN that she was persuaded to board Uganda Airlines because of the direct flights and affordable rates from Johannesburg but was frustrated that the flight misplaced their baggage, even if it did not have any stopover. The airline charges are between USD330 and 370 for a return flight compared to Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines which have non-direct flights and charge between USD450 and 600 for the route.
A father who had come to pick up his son returning from studies was equally disappointed and noted that all the passengers he had seen departing the airport did not have check-in baggage just like his son. “This is a direct flight, so how can one’s baggage go missing?” he wondered.
Two siblings who have returned for the festive season say their four bags are missing. They told our reporter that the passenger handlers say their baggage will be brought on Sunday, December 5.
But three passengers are not as enthusiastic, saying that they have heard from colleagues who travelled last week and have not yet received their check-in baggage to date.
“My sister arrived in Entebbe last Sunday but she has not yet got her two bags. The airline is silent about this issue,” one passenger said, “I didn’t want to reschedule my flight or book another airline because of the ever-changing travel measures to contain the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.”
Sources at Uganda Airlines confirmed that they have a baggage backlog of two weeks. The CRJ-900 Bombardier aircraft that operates the Johannesburg flight carries a maximum of 76 passengers and has a maximum weight of 38,329 kilograms at takeoff. Each passenger is allowed to check in 23 kilograms or pay for the extra baggage.
Now passengers are suggesting that the management should consider using the over 250-seater Airbus 330-800 Neo aircraft for the Johannesburg route to carry the baggage left behind since it has the capacity to carry 40 tonnes of cargo.