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Delta chartered an Airbus A330 jet just to get 1,000 bags stranded in Europe back to customers in the US

Delta A350-900.

Oleh Yatskiv/Shutterstock

  • Delta Air Lines chartered an Airbus A330 jet carrying 1,000 delayed bags to deliver to customers.
  • The charter flew from London to Detroit after a regularly scheduled flight was canceled.
  • US airlines lost, damaged, or delayed about 220,000 bags in June 2022 — a 135% increase from 2021.

Lost luggage is becoming a common headache among travelers this summer.

Over the past few months, airlines have struggled to properly track and deliver passenger bags, with hundreds arriving days late, or not at all. 

While the chaos is frustrating, Delta Air Lines is making an effort to return misplaced luggage. On Monday, the airline chartered an Airbus A330 from London to Detroit to deliver 1,000 delayed bags to passengers, the airline confirmed to Insider.

“Delta teams worked a creative solution to move delayed checked bags from London-Heathrow on July 11 after a regularly scheduled flight had to be canceled given airport passenger volume restrictions at Heathrow,” a company spokesperson said.

Once in Detroit, the bags were forwarded to customers, who had been rebooked on other flights after the originally scheduled flight was canceled, Delta told Insider. The bags were loaded into the belly of the plane, not in the passenger cabin.

In the US, airlines lost, damaged, or delayed nearly 220,000 bags in June, which is a 135% increase from the same month in 2021, according to the Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report.

Of the three mainline carriers, American Airlines performed the worst, mishandling about 65,000 bags. Delta mishandled about 45,000 bags, while United Airlines mishandled just under 30,000.

European airports and airlines are also struggling to deliver luggage on time. One customer has been missing his bag for a week after returning home from Australia. After not getting any answers, he bought a cheap ticket just so he could access a restricted area at Dublin Airport where lost luggage was being stored.

Another passenger has waited over 25 days for a lost bag. The luggage, which has important medication in it, has traveled to Munich, Athens, and Venice so far, but is still missing.

European airline Icelandair is testing a unique system to better manage luggage transfers. Specifically, the carrier is flying its own ground handlers to Amsterdam to help load and unload baggage, Iceland-based news outlet Ríkisútvarpið (RUV) reported.

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