Air New Zealand is now allowing baggage trackers to be used on its flights and is loosely policing cabin baggage limits in response to passengers’ concerns about losing their luggage, a National MP says he has been told.
However, the airline has yet to confirm the information Dr Shane Reti has shared.
The politician wrote to both the airline and Auckland Airport this week after he saw baggage piled up at the arrivals hall on December 26offering suggestions as to how the situation could be improved.
Reti said he received a response “within an hour” from Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran, who explained the steps the airline was taking.
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He said he was told the airline had “significantly” increased call center and baggage handling resources, and that baggage trackers such as AirTags and Tiles are now allowed on Air New Zealand flights.
Air New Zealand has yet to publicly confirm the change. On Monday, the spokesperson for the airline told Stuff they had sought approval from the Civil Aviation Authority [CAA] for passengers to be able to use the devices and was waiting to hear back.
On Wednesday, an airline spokesperson directed Stuff to the CAA for an update on baggage trackers.
Reti said Foran also responded to his suggestion that there needed to be more leniency in terms of baggage weight for customers wanting to travel with carry-on baggage only. Economy passengers are typically allowed one carry-on bag that can weigh up to 7kg.
“He wrote back saying there was a looseness of policy in as much that there still needed to be safety – so you couldn’t bring 20kg up in the cabin, but they did have a looseness of policy to reflect this concern.”
The Air New Zealand spokesperson said there are no changes to the cabin baggage policy or baggage limit.
Reti said he also received a response from an Auckland Airport spokesperson who noted that they had also increased baggage handling staff and installed storage racks for the yet-to-be-claimed baggage.
However, the logistics of how people would be able to actually claim their bags from the massive piles still needed to be considered, Reti said.
“They are exploring creative solutions… I felt an absolute sense of urgency,” he said.
An Auckland Airport spokesperson confirmed the airport had spoken directly to Reti regarding his concerns.
“Auckland Airport told Dr Reti that significant disruption at overseas airports continues to impact travelers arriving internationally, with a higher-than-normal volume of mishandled baggage and that we recognize this is frustrating for travelers,” the spokesperson said.
“While airlines, alongside their groundhandlers, are responsible for customers’ bags and ensuring they reach the right destination, Auckland Airport is continuing to proactively support local airline, groundhandling and government agency teams as they work to efficiently process mishandled bags. This includes increasing available storage and a baggage racking system.”
The airport’s advice to travelers was to pack any critical items, such as medications, in carry-on bags instead of checked luggage.
Travelers with lost luggage should get in touch with the airline that flew them to New Zealand.
Reti said after seeing the traction the photo he took of the baggage piled up at Auckland Airport had received online, he realized there needed to be a “champion” of the issue.
“I will stay onto them until we find some pervasive solutions that join people back with their baggage.”