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What To Do When Things Go Wrong At The Airport

Christmas is the ultimate family travel time… it is like the 8 weeks of the summer holidays condensed into 3 weeks.

The atmosphere at the airport is amazing: Dublin Airport goes all out with Christmas carols and school choirs, cribs and snowmen, live radio broadcasts, photographers, journalists…the airport atmosphere buzzes. And then there’s the arrival’s halls… I well-up every year at the site of tearful reunions, the surprises, the embraces, it really is lovely! But it’s also madness!

With so many people traveling in such a concentrated period of time, the workload for airline staff, ground handling crews and airport staff triples, and things can go wrong. Luggage and equipment can end up in Dubai instead of Dublin for example, or worse, it arrives in two pieces instead of one. So, what to do?

You will have noticed that all airports operate a very strict traffic flow, it’s like Ikea: Arriving and departing passengers are very purposefully directed forwards through the airport, and it’s very difficult to go backwards!

So why is this obvious information relevant? Well, when it comes to equipment being mishandled or damaged, it’s important not to go too far, ‘lest it’s too late to turn back. If you leave your bag on the aircraft and only remember at passport control, or if you go through security and suddenly remember you left your mobile phone on the coffee shop table, it’s not IMPOSSIBLE to go back, but it’s not as simple as turning around and going back either. You’ll need an airport person with many levels of security clearance to get you back.

The most important thing you can do if something goes wrong with your luggage is to report it while still in the airport, preferably while still airside… once you’ve left the building, not even Elvis can help you with the claim!

  • If something hasn’t arrived DO NOT LEAVE THE BAGGAGE HALL before going to your airline’s desk or their ground handling agents (usually Sky Handling or Swissport) and report it there and then. It is so much more awkward for both the passenger and airline to process a report via the phone.

  • ​You will be asked to describe your bag or buggy… know the brand / colour and general description, better if you tie a defining ribbon or key ring, or something that’ll make it stand out and stick in your mind. Better still, take a photo of it.

  • Check equipment thoroughly before you leave the baggage hall for damage, and in the case where something is broken, report it to the airline desk in the baggage hall. In most cases, airlines will not cover a claim once you have left the airport building.

  • Please be aware that while airlines will replace or refund claims of equipment that is damaged, scratches are not generally considered as ‘damage’.

Is there anything to do to prevent bags and equipment being mishandled or broken?

Sure! Label everything. Get your equipment tagged, even if you’re taking it to the gate, to ensure it’s on the flight manifest. Bag the equipment properly – a bin liner will not protect your expensive buggy from a ground handling agent, in a rush to turn the plane around. Finally, keep EVERYTHING – boarding cards, bag tags, tickets, everything. You will be asked for them by the airline if you are making a claim.

Oh and where possible fly with Ryanair, Aer Lingus or Emirates because at least if you arrive in Dublin with any of these airlines, with a broken buggy or a missing car seat, The Stork Exchange are on hand to replace any of the baby equipment you need, courtesy of the airline, so that you can at least leave the airport and enjoy the silly season!

Have you had any airport disasters or minor mishaps? We'd love to hear. You can get more handy travel advice from The Stork Exchange in our Travel Expert section.


About the Author

I’m Olivia Mai, founder of The Stork Exchange and Mum to two small children. The Stork Exchange is a children's equipment rental service that was born from a dearth of options for parents traveling with infants and small children. It's not easy to travel with kids, much less lug everything with you and speaking from personal experience we found the car seats and cots etc that are provided by many car rental companies or hotels etc are not great quality... so we set up The Stork Exchange!   We offer everything from isofix car seats, holiday 'buggy-in-a-bag', travel cots and highchairs, all quality brands, sanitized and safety-checked before every single hire. Our staff are trained and insured and will install the car seat into your car for you.

We work closely with a number of airlines and car rental companies and have spent several years developing and investing in our product range. I am constantly asked questions by parents about travelling with kids; what equipment to bring, what not to bring, what’s allowed by airlines, what’s not. Being at the airport day in day out means I am pretty close to it all and as a result have built up loads of knowledge, tips and nuggets of practical and useful information I'm happy to share. We also learn from the experiences of other Mums and Dads. It’s genuinely great to be able to help make the journey and holiday a bit easier for parents. 

Want to get in touch? Email us at info@thestorkexchange.ie. Check out our website and social channels at the icons above.

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