While there are a lot of tips to avoid baggage loss, travelers usually still worry about losing their luggage. It’s not exactly uncommon for an airline to displace their passenger’s bags, but more often than not, things turn out okay.
But not for these people, whose tragic baggage tales may traumatize you. Proceed reading these worst luggage incidents happened before to be more cautious.
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9 Worst Luggage Incidents
1. 240 Suitcases and Raw Sewage
You would never expect your luggage to be buried in excrement, but that is what happened in November 2010. One of the worst luggage incidents was when a waste pipe in London Heathrow’s Terminal 1 burst and swamped about 240 suitcases with disgusting human waste.
A source at the scene shared, “Gallons of raw sewage came spewing out. The stench was appalling.”
2. Bag on Fire
Once you get over the stench, though, sewage would probably be better than having your bag set on fire.
In December 2008, a woman was called in a cockpit of her United Airlines flight. The pilot pointed to a blaze on the tarmac, telling her that it was her luggage, which caught fire when it was placed too close to the engine.
3. Jet Fuel Soak
Having your luggage infused with jet fuel is bad enough, but if it’s soaked in the jet fuel so much that it’s emitting fumes, that’s a different thing altogether. Delta Airlines even had the audacity to tell the passenger to clean their luggage before they reimburse it. At least there’s no fire involved—right?
4. Are Luggage Bags Buoyant?
You’d think that cruise-line crews mastered the art of not dropping people’s bags overboard, after all, they have been doing it for centuries. However, that is not always the case. One of the worst luggage incidents happened when a Royal Caribbean ship managed to throw a passenger’s bag overboard, with it all her prescription medications.
5. Why Rich People Have Private Jets
It is not clear how often fashion heir Giorgio Gucci travels on commercial airlines, but his last may have been in September 2010—when US Airways managed to lose his luggage, which had about $50,000 worth of items in vintage bags on the flight from Madrid to Philadelphia.
6. Airline Employee Theft
When the people who check your luggage are the same ones helping themselves to valuables—jewelry, cameras, and electronics—well, that’s unsettling. However, in November 2010, detectives caught four American Airlines bag handlers taking things from their passengers. What’s worse is that they have worked with the airlines for almost nine years, so who knows how much they already stole over the course of that time.
7. Rotting Luggage
Heathrow is known for their rain, so why they leave lost luggage outside while searching for their owners is anybody’s guess. They leave it there for long periods too. A British Airways passenger was shocked to see her bag damp, and her baggage smelly—it was out in the open for seven days. Would have worked better for her if she equipped it with a luggage GPS tracker.
8. Conveyor Belt Thief
At the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in August 2010, police found that a man had been habitually stealing bags right off the conveyor belt. He’s done it enough that the stolen goods amounted to hundreds and thousands of dollars. Carry-ons just sounded better.
The trolleys that airlines use to transport luggage have no roof over it, which is why employees should know that they’re not immune to weather conditions. However, they’re not really concerned about that, which is what a passenger on board an Orlando to Chicago flight in 2009 learned the hard way—he got his bag back soaking wet upon arrival.
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