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Qantas leaves baggage behind in Dallas... deliberately

By danwarne     Filed under: qantas, luggage, delays, baggage, delayed luggage, Dallas Fort Worth, DFW, checked baggage, lost luggage

Qantas has admitted deliberately leaving passenger baggage behind in the USA because of concerns over fuel consumption.

Traveller Steve Molkentin was dismayed to arrive in Brisbane on his QF8 flight from Qantas' new hub of Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), only to find his luggage hadn't made the journey.

That in itself is not a terribly uncommon experience for international travellers. However, Molkentin soon discovered that Qantas had deliberately left his luggage -- and that of many other passengers -- off the plane to reduce the weight of the Boeing 747-400ER.

"We landed in Brisbane with a very full plane, to an announcement that three containers of luggage had been left in Dallas/Fort Worth," Molkentin told Australian Business Traveller. "Further investigation showed it was intentional -- the plane would not have made Brisbane otherwise."

He said passengers were "told luggage was already coming via Los Angeles". Molkentin's bags arrived 24 hours after he did.

Qantas is the only airline in the world to fly the Boeing 747-400ER, where "ER" stands for "Extended Range".

These jumbos have specially designed fuel tanks designed to hold more jet fuel, which allows Qantas to fly the world's longest 747 route – from Sydney to Dallas.

However, the return leg from Dallas requires a stopover in Brisbane so that the aircraft can refuel because even the 747-400ER lacks sufficient fuel capacity to fly from Dallas to Sydney directly, given it faces strong headwinds on the homewards flight.

Qantas' need to leave three containers of baggage behind at DFW demonstrates just how tight the route is in terms of the fuel required to cover additional contingencies such as changed weather conditions.

A Qantas spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that "a number of bags were offloaded from the QF8 on 21 May due to load restrictions as a result of unseasonably strong winds.

"Emergency expenses will be covered for customers affected by this disruption and we apologise for the inconvenience caused.

"This is a new service for Qantas and we will be constantly monitoring how this service performs from both an operational and customer experience perspective."

What choice did Qantas have but to leave baggage behind? Read Crikey's Ben Sandilands view on Qantas' decision.

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About danwarne

Dan is a tech enthusiast who frequently qualifies for enhanced airport security screening due to the number of cords and gadgets stuffed into his cabin bag.

 

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1 on 24/5/11 by am

It's just not really the right plane for the job... If only the 787 was around -- we would probably have seen this launch as a daily direct service in each direction, and there wouldn't have been any of these issues!!

2 on 24/5/11 by Jack

disgusting.

1 on 24/5/11 by am

What's better? Ditching in the middle of the pacific??? These are factors outside of Qantas' control, and they dealt with them in the best way they could with the smallest impact on their customers... I'd bet that the people's whose bags came the next day were returning home (they can tell through your booking), so would have been inconvenienced the least... 

1 on 24/5/11 by MyBagsArePacked

It is ridiculous to suggest that ditching would be an option.

When Qantas decided to fly this route it would have known that at some stage (and perhaps quite often it would need to do this).

Qantas was quick to advertise the benefits of this route, but it did not make public the possibility of having baggage offloaded.

Qantas has simply been deceptive with its customers and potential customers.

People should avoid this Qantas route.

As for your assumption that the people were simply "returning home" (and I assume you mean they didn't need what was in those bags), what are you basing this on?

1 on 24/5/11 by am

I think that it's pretty obvious that the idea of Qantas crashing a $200 million 747 with 300 people on board into the middle of the Pacific Ocean thousands of kilometers from land is pretty ridiculous in itself without the fact being pointed out...

No airline advertises the fact that they may or may not offload your baggage. Yet it happens with every airline every day somewhere across the network... I had my bag offloaded for an SQ SIN-LHR flight without being notified, it certainly wasn't paraded on their website, simply because they were having weight issues and figured that I was better to get to London and get my bag delivered to me off the next flight 4 hours later... It's a fact of flying, and when customers tick the little terms and conditions box they recognise and accept that fact... The airlines (not least Qantas) don't try to hide this fact, it's just so rare that it's not really a common concern.

If people should boycott Qantas and this route for their not advertising the slight chance of having your bag 24 hours late, then they should boycott airlines like Emirates and SQ. They feature next generation, amazingly wonderful onboard products in their advertising yet fly old configurations on long haul out of Australia... We all know about the great business class cabin/experience on the EK A380, yet the old recliner is still an extremely common sight on other 777 flown non-stop services, which are in the region of 12-14 hours to Dubai. SQ advertise their fantastic 77W/A380 business class, and I expect to get that on all my flights with them out of Sydney, yet some days the majority of flights have the old fashined Raffles seats. When the A380s had their temporary shift from Australian flying a few months ago, we saw every flight on most days into Sydney and Melbourne utilising a 10 year old product while the marketing displays the latest, promising that it's what you'll experience...

That is deceptive behaviour, not offloading a few bags on a rare occasion when the weather is particularly severe. Therefore, by your logic, Singapore Airlines and Emirates (who I regard as two of the best airlines in the world) should be boycotted at all cost, because their hard product often doesn't match up with what they advertise.

As for your questioning of my assumption regarding those who have their bags offloaded - it's an official policy at most airlines (including Qantas) to remove cargo, then pax bags, then pax. In an unofficial extension of that, if they have to take bags off to reduce weight then they take the ones that appear to have the least invasive impacts of people's travel plans. They do state that you should not pack any essential or valuable goods into your checked baggage, and it makes sense that the person who is going to a home filled with their clothes, toiletries etc is going to be less reliant on getting their bags than the person who is going to be otherwise stuck with no clothes, potentially no documentation for hotels or faced with onward travel plans without their bags... I accept that this logic is not always 100%, but it is still used so one would assume it works reasonably well in the majority of cases.

2 on 24/5/11 by chandi

When UA started flying the ORD-HKG route for part of the year they would only book the flight to 50% capacity. I am surprised to think that QF did not know how many people were on the flight before hand and most of them will be carrying at least 20kg of luggage.

3 on 24/5/11 by jokiin

This months Qantas inflight mag the cover story is about the new direct to Dallas & Fort Worth services, scanned the article but don't recall it being mentioned that it was only people that were going direct, not their luggage, not having a good time lately eh Qantas!

4 on 25/5/11 by chandi

Giving the benefit of the doubt to QF, and assuming the smallest container size (LD1 or LD3) we are still talking about leaving up to 4.5tons or so of cargo behind.  Lets assume that they were only half the capacity weight which would mean 2200kg.  That is still 110 peoples 20kg luggage allowance which is close to 40% of load.

Question is did QF prioritize Cargo ahead of the luggage (annoying but understandable business decision) or can they only fly the route reliably with significantly less than full load?  If it the latter I am assuming this is going to be a very regular occurrence.

There are a few routes in the US serviced by Regional Jets such as ORD-AVL, ORD-CMI where there is more than a 50% chance that the checked in luggale will be left behind, specially in the winter.  Hope the DFW-SYD will not become one of these.

5 on 25/5/11 by Chloeglow

If you're going to fly a route that is that tight for fuel.... maybe they shouldve considered their options better..... and 24hrs without your luggage is a massive pain in the arse for anyone... im surprised people think its no big deal.. even if youre travelling home!

 

 

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