Heading for the baggage reclaim after a flight, most air travellers experience at a least a flicker of concern that their suitcases may not appear on the carousel.
So imagine the exasperation of almost 200 passengers who arrived in Barbados from London to be told that their luggage had safely accompanied them across the Atlantic…but now had to go back again.
Staff informed them that their cases were locked in the rear hold of the Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 jumbo jet and the ground crew at Grantley Adams Airport couldn’t open the door to get them out.
Eventually engineers in Bridgetown gave up and the bags were flown the 4,200 miles back to Gatwick for experts to work out how to open the hold door.
It meant passengers who had set off from the rainy UK in winter clothes at 10.30am on Sunday were forced to wait until 6.15 on Monday night to get their bags. As one frustrated passenger put it: “The luggage was in the hold but it was as if they forgot the key that opened it.”
By the time the bags were reunited with their owners they had travelled almost 13,000 miles.
Toby Radford, the newly appointed assistant head coach to the West Indies cricket team, was on the flight and had all his clothes and sports equipment in the hold.
He said: “It had already been a bumpy flight so we were all glad to land but when we got into the baggage reclaim area it was crazy.
“It was left to local admin staff to explain the situation. There were some children on board. Some passengers were boarding cruise ships and worried about not receiving their luggage in time.”
Mr Radford, from Newbury in Berkshire, added: “I am walking around the Caribbean in my jeans and long sleeved shirt. I have nothing other than my laptop with me. I don’t have my toothbrush and I don’t have my contact lenses.”
Former Middlesex cricketer Mr Radford, 40, has coached England captain Andrew Strauss and is helping to prepare the West Indies for the visit of Australia later this month. He was able to start work with the squad on Monday after they found him some kit, though he was forced to wear the brogues he had flown in.
There were 288 people on the eight-hour VS029 flight from Gatwick Airport, the majority were tourists beginning expensive Caribbean holidays.
The 88 passengers with their luggage in the front hold were able to reclaim their bags but the remaining 200 with bags in the rear hold were left waiting.
After struggling to free the hold door manually the decision was taken for the bags to return to the UK for technicians to resolve the problem.
Passengers at Grantley Adams International Airport waiting to return to the UK were allowed to board the plane and their luggage was placed in the front hold.
Virgin Atlantic did not detail what the fault with doors was. A spokesman said: “We would like to apologise to all customers affected.
“Every effort was made to open the luggage door manually in Barbados following a technical issue but the aircraft was returned to London. Support is being provided to people in Barbados.” - Daily Mail