When technology fails – Qantas baggage chaos in Sydney

Back to Forum

This topic contains 3 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  JPNU 9 Jan 2018
at 09:04

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)

  • TominScotland

    We were flying SYD to OOL yesterday morning with Qantas and arrived at T3 to absolute chaos luckily very early for our flight. Queues for baggage drop were snaking everywhere and we hardly moving. Any pretence at priority service was suspended. There was no movement at all on the belts, only the occasional attempt to restart the system which then broke down again. The only information for the first hour was from fellow passengers and the occasional passing Qantas staff member. When a PA announcement did materialise, it informed us of a “baggage system sortage outage”, whatever that means. Overall, the lack of information and advice was very poor but (far too few) staff on the ground worked really hard to try to get things moving, dragging bags here and there and trying to upload them to the carousel without joy.

    It took about 90 minutes for a sort-of Plan B to emerge, which was to call flights in order of expected departure and get passengers to take their bags to the only manual shoot in the terminal, the ‘hole in the wall’ as QF staff called it. It was exactly 3 hours before we were able to put our bags down this shoot and we then were among the first who headed through Security (reduced in capacity to provide more security staff on the floor, tagging bags as ‘Security Checked’ without any real verification).

    Our aircraft was boarding when we got there and those on board were, presumably hand baggage only folks. We had few expectations of seeing our baggage again off this flight but somehow we only arrived in OOL some 25 minutes late and our bags did emerge…….

    It struck me that the lack of an alternative plan in the event of the automated carousel system failing was the real issue here – Qantas staff, well intentioned, really had no clue what to do. Secondly the lack of clear information to passengers was unforgiveable as this only stoked rumours and heightened tensions.


    The picture you painted has rarely if ever changed over the years in relation to numerous airport issues whether it be baggage, weather , strikes etc. No one seems to take responsibility. Any company worth its salt has a Crisis Communications Plan as was ably demonstrated by the tragic accident in Taipei when SQ 006 Singapore Airlines took off on the wrong runway. That is the most extreme example of something having gone wrong but SQ managed it admirably. It isn´t just airports and airlines, there are numerous examples from other industries. The message from the management of those companies appears to “We couldn´t give a toss so get stuffed”.


    While there is no excuse for the lack of communication from any company when things don’t go to plan…

    I often feel, with all the ‘automation’, front line staff level reductions and system ‘streamlining’ that has been going on worldwide, in just about every industry, when any system fails (as in this case)… there’s no one to pick up the slack. When I get to the airport and enter the terminal… they have been replaced by the self generated bar code boarding pass on my phone, self service kiosk, self baggage scanner and automated bag drop belt.

    Not that I’m saying the ‘good old days’, where baggage was handled (and mishandled a LOT more too) manually, if a tug or some other piece of machinery broke down, there was a possibility staff were available to redeploy to minimise the disruption. Not any more. Unfortunately now (when it hits the fan) there is no one.

    Thats the ‘trade off’ management have made in almost every industry to give us ‘more personal control over our experience’. The infuriating thing, as pointed out above, they (the managers that designed these new systems) have not put in place training or a ‘system’ for a ‘plan B’. THEY don’t have to deal face to face with the customer with the problem when it happens. Just the statistics on the monthly report.

    Main thing is…. glad to hear your luggage arrived and hopefully you had/are having a great time on the Gold Coast!


    Pleased to report that everything was working well in Sydney when I arrived this morning. In fact, it was the smoothest arrival I have had in a very long time. The immigration process was remarkably quick and, dare I say, pleasant. Customs officers were wandering around the baggage carousels politely asking about possible bio risks etc in luggage and issuing stamps to those of us who were then cleared to go through the green channel.

    My travel patterns are changing so hopefully I will now start having more pleasant immigration experiences that previously. First impressions of Australia have been overwhelmingly positive (except for minor sunburn caused by my own stupidity).

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Business Traveller June 2019 edition
Business Traveller June 2019 edition
Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription
To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below