Mumbai airport goof-up? Baggage mix-up delays 3 international flights

Terminal 2 of Mumbai airport ground handling agency blames staff crunch for mixing up baggage of passengers flying to Singapore, Shanghai and Abu Dhabi

Travelling abroad anytime soon? You might have a reason to worry. A ground handling agency mixed up check-in baggage of passengers of Air China, Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways flights, thus delaying the three international flights by up to two hours early on Sunday morning.

Also read: Two deaths in two days at Mumbai airport

Sources say the shortage of staff has been causing problems for the last few days at Terminal 2 of the airport. Representation Pic/AFP
Sources say the shortage of staff has been causing problems for the last few days at Terminal 2 of the airport. Representation Pic/AFP

The mix-up happened at the Baggage Makeup Area (BMA). This, according to sources, has been happening for the last few days due to shortage of ground staff at Terminal 2. A few employees are awaiting the renewal of their Airport Entry Pass (AEP), without which they can't work at the terminal.

While Singapore Airlines' SQ 423 to Singapore and Etihad Airways' EY 203 to Abu Dhabi were delayed by 20 minutes, Air China's CA 430 to Shanghai was late by 2.15 hours.

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The error occurred after the in-line screening of the baggage; the loaders, who are responsible for segregating it by flight numbers, were few and thus faced a problem in doing the job efficiently. "There is a shortage of baggage handling staff at the terminal currently. The ground handling agency for these three airlines has been facing this issue for the past few days now. On Sunday morning, due to fewer workers, the baggage handling and loading process delayed the departure of these flights," explained an airport official.

A senior airport official, while explaining the issue, said, "The yearly AEPs need to be renewed during the year end and many of the ground handling agencies' employees are still awaiting the new AEPs to arrive, without which they cannot allow their staff to operate in the airport premises. The delay had made their absence felt."

While airport sources confirmed the delay, a Singapore Airlines spokesperson said, "Singapore Airlines flight SQ 423 did not experience any delay due to baggage security screening. The delay was due to the late arrival of incoming aircraft SQ 424 and air traffic congestion." Etihad Airways refused to comment on the matter.

Loading process
After being submitted by the passenger, the baggage is sent for in-line screening. This process includes four levels of scanning a particular suspicious baggage. When the baggage fails the first scan, it has to pass through the second scan. A baggage that gets an all-okay is passed to the loaders standing at the Baggage Makeup Area at the end of the scanner. If a suspicious baggage fails scanning four times, the passenger is called in for a physical check.

"Special attention needs to be paid at handling bags according to their tags," said an airport official.

"Delays in loading the bags in the aircraft's cargo occur when a few of them are either untagged or when some haven't been located or mishandled. Delays also result in drivers getting reckless in a hurry to reach the aircraft on time."

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