JEDDAH: Have you ever been at an airport waiting for your luggage on the baggage carousel, and it doesn’t turn up?
Well, it could be very similar to someone else’s luggage and they have picked it up by mistake, leaving you empty handed. Perhaps the luggage has been shipped to visit another country. Who is to blame: You, the airline or the airport? Here are the stories of a few people who lost their luggage at Jeddah airport.
Abdullah Omer, a passenger who gave up trying to find a bag he had been carrying in the plane, said: “Usually when I travel I don’t carry anything with me in the plane, but that time was different. There was a very precious top inside the bag and I remembered that once I arrived home. I didn’t actually contact the airlines or the airport because I was sure it was lost.”
Ola Hamed, who came to Jeddah from Jordan to perform Umrah and lost a bag full of goodies for her sons and grandsons, said: “I panicked when the bag I was waiting for didn’t turn up, I immediately told one of my sons and he suggested I ask the airport guys to find it. Thank God we spoke at the right time as the bag was about to be shipped to Nigeria by mistake.”
Ahmad Mohammed, a Saudi groom who bought his wedding suit from London to get married in Jeddah, said: “I wanted to leave the airport as fast as possible as my wedding was the day after. One of the other passengers had a similar bag to mine. He picked up my bag and I picked up his. But my bag had a sticker with my phone number. I was left alone in the luggage area. I submitted a form about my lost luggage and an hour later I received a call. It was the guy who had picked up my bag.”
Fadhel Mahmoud, who was very lucky to get his lost luggage returned to him after four days, said: “I was heading to Jeddah from Egypt with my bag full of gifts for friends and a big amount of cash. But I could not find my bag after I arrived. I submitted a form to the airport but I lost hope of finding it and went home.
“Four days later I received a call from the airport. The luggage had been to Morocco and I noticed that someone had tried to unlock it, but I was lucky enough to have the bag back without losing anything.”
Reem Omer, from GACA (General Authority of Civil Aviation) customer services, said: ”In such cases, it is better to go personally to the airport and submit a notice to the Lost Luggage office and they will take care of you.”
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) tweeted on its official Twitter account in 2017: “If luggage has been damaged, lost or delayed passengers have the right to claim compensation.”
Bigger in scale, bigger inefficiency
King Abdul Aziz International Airport, which will open in May 2018, has some important features to help overcome several problems faced by passengers and employees of the old airport. The new airport will be the largest in the world and the busiest of all airports during the Hajj.
The new airport will have a complex of travel halls with an area of 810,000 square meters allowing all air carriers to operate under one roof. And there are 46 gates for international and domestic flights, including gates to accommodate giant aircraft such as the A380, in addition to 94 mobile bridges to serve aircraft of different sizes with two bridges per gate. This means the old concept of having a bus or airport shuttle to transport passengers from the airport building to the airplane will no longer exist.
The new airport features a 136 meter-high observation tower, one of the highest in the world. Most importantly there will be a sophisticated passenger luggage-handling system with a length of 34.6 km, which is connected to the latest multi-level security systems.
The airport is the busiest airport in Saudi Arabia and the third-largest airport in the Kingdom. The airport is known for its Hajj terminal, which is specially built for Islamic pilgrims going annually to Makkah and can handle 80,000 passengers at a time.
The new KAIA will contain a mosque that can accommodate 3,000 worshippers with an outside courtyard for prayer at an area of 2,450 square meters, in addition to an upper floor as women’s prayer area that will accommodate about 700.
The new KAIA will be able to service 70 aircraft at once with mobile bridges, as well as parking spaces around the terminal complex accommodating 28 aircraft. The project has an automated railway system for international passenger transport within the hall complex.
There will be short-term car parking on four floors that will accommodate 8,200 vehicles, and will be equipped with electronic devices for public parking which will enable the owner of the car to know the parking location of the car. There will also be long-term parking for 4,356 cars. Construction work on KAIA airport began in 1974 and was finalized in 1980. Finally, on May 31, 1981, the airport opened for service after being officially inaugurated in April 1981.