Travellers’ luggage is not safe on flight. My sad experience

Travellers arriving at Entebbe International airport in Uganda on March 3, 2020. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • Is it intentional that at a certain point the luggage is not under surveillance hence paving way for this to happen?

Recently I got a rude awakening when I learnt that luggage is still tampered with on flights!

This used to be a thing back then, when one travelled, half the time they returned with stories of how their luggage was cut and precious goods stolen.

It is 2023 and I rudely learnt that this still happens!

I travelled aboard Qatar Airways to and from the US on April 20, returning to Entebbe on May 5!

Hours later after arriving home all the way in Jinja I got the rude awakening that someone had helped themselves to some of my personal effects, notable of these were my assortment of precious perfumes.

My luggage was not tampered with while I travelled to the US, I guess I didn’t have many attractions like on the return! So, aboard flight QR 701: New York to Doha and Flight QR 1383: Doha to Entebbe, my precious items didn’t make it home!

What’s baffling is the technique used, nothing is broken, zippers are intact, everything seems safe, yet someone made their quick peep through my personal effects and selected what pleased their eyes! 

Is it one person? Is it a racket? We will never know but the efficiency that they use to “shop” either while onboarding the luggage or in between the time the flight lands and when you pick your bags off the conveyor belt speaks of proficiency, someone must have mastered this art to perfection! 

I bet it’s a racket of individuals trained and ready to pounce on any pleasantry hastily!

They must have the right gadgets that detect the attractions while others quickly make their way in and close neatly, you would never suspect a thing when you collect your luggage!  

My question to whoever oversees the handling of the luggage is why haven’t you deployed security cameras to watch this process?

Is it intentional that at a certain point the luggage is not under surveillance hence paving way for this to happen?

While I whined to someone, I was informed that usually it’s a racket including lower cadre handlers who do the “shopping” and report to their supervisors with the bounty who then get to pick their preferences as each of them gets a chance to take home something that they never had to spend on! Shame!

I tried to follow up with Qatar Airways and the customer care desk gave a polite predictable response “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that you encountered as a result of your missing items on your baggage and can fully understand how unsettling this situation must have been for you.

We would kindly like to bring to your attention that all baggage cases are handled at station end and any irregularities are handled by the airport concerned, consequently, we have forwarded your case to our Baggage Department in Entebbe who are in the best position to assist you regarding your claim.

They will communicate back to you on the same. Please expect to hear from them”.

It’s been a month since and I bet I’ll keep counting!  I don’t write this expecting compensation, my bar is lower than that, I write this to save someone else who could fall victim!

I write to call for a system review by whoever is in charge, why in this 2023 with all the possible surveillance mechanisms should we still grapple with petty thefts from luggage?

Where is the loophole? How do these people siphon this stuff out? Where do they hide them?

How do they eventually check out of their duties with unexplained shopping for an assortment of fragrances, toys and other brand-new effects? If we can’t deal with such small systemic issues, how do we expect to tackle bigger issues?

My prayer and hope is that management will review their baggage handling process and defeat these loopholes, no one should ever have to travel bearing the anxiety of losing precious stuff!

For the traveler out there, do wrap your luggage if you can, sadly at JFK Airport there weren’t any wrapping accessories-I got to pay the price for that!  

Anna Turumanya Kalumuna