Vueling rushes to sort out luggage pileup at Barcelona’s El Prat

Airline blames chain reaction of events that caused suitcase delivery delays Unions blame carrier for not hiring enough personnel during start of tourist high season

Passengers interviewed about the luggage problem at El Prat (Spanish narration).Photo: atlas | Video: ATLAS
Dani Cordero

Baggage-handlers at Barcelona’s El Prat international airport have been trying to get hundreds of suitcases returned to their owners by this weekend after a sudden backup left about 2,000 pieces of luggage stranded on Tuesday.

The problem has affected about 3,000 passengers.

The rest of the suitcases should be returned to passengers by the weekend, according to Vueling

Union officials blame the airline company Vueling for not hiring enough personnel to handle the large amounts of baggage that pass through one of Europe’s busiest airports at the beginning of this year’s tourist high season.

The Barcelona daily El Periódico reported on Tuesday that more than 2,000 pieces of luggage were stranded at EL Prat. By Wednesday, Vueling officials said that at least half that number had already been returned to their owners. The rest of the suitcases should be returned to passengers by the weekend.

“It is our priority,” said a company spokesman.

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The UGT Groundforce union explained that Vueling should have hired more baggage-handlers, especially during the days when there are more flights coming in and leaving El Prat.

The Eaire airport authority, formerly known as Aena, also blamed Vueling for the problem after explaining that conveyer belts at the airport were working properly.

Vueling has apologized for the delays, which were fueled by luggage pileups at Rome’s Fiumicino airport and in the Balearic Islands at the beginning of a busy tourist season.

According to Vueling, the problem first surfaced on July 31 when a fire caused by an electrical short broke out at Fiumicino, forcing officials to temporarily shut off power.

Baggage delays were compounded by meteorological conditions in the Balearics that temporary grounded many flights, Vueling said.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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