IAG (British Airways and Iberia/Iberia Express) has gained approval to take full control of Vueling Airways. Iberia already had just under 50% shares and has been in negotiating a full take over for some time now. It is unclear what this will mean in the long term. News fromBloomberg
Posts: 2585 | Location: Galicia Spain | Registered: 16 April 2008
I love Vueling. I'm not alone. When Vueling and Iberia - national carrier, no less, - merged, many already said that it was a step up for Iberia, and a step down for Vueling. And now British Airways. The mésalliance continues.
Well, today I was travelling on Vueling from Madrid to Florence with the orchestra I work with, and they simply did not load the baggages at all. We arrived in Florence, anybody's baggage had not left Madrid - it took an hour just to understand this thing, no Vueling representatives in sight. When this happens to single travellers this is enough an inconvenience. If this happens to a travelling group of 100 persons and involves multiple deals with different organization, it becomes a major blunder. In spite of having a man in Madrid to pester Vueling, we do not know where baggage is and if and when we will be able to retrieve it.
No, instruments are so bulky and valuable that they usually travel by truck - if travelling by air a separate cargo may be required, or a charter flight with extremely careful planning.
Thinking about it, I can see a pattern in what happened. Our flight at 9.50am was already the second flight of the day for airplane and the crew. The first flight had a short delay, and we were embarked just after the people from the first flight exited (this is quite evident at Madrid Barajas where, to facilitate transfers, departure and arrival areas are not separate). Our flight left 20 minutes after time and had to cope with very moderate bad weather (nothing to write home about), and again a third flight was scheduled with very tight headway. It does not help that Florence airport has a short runway so flying to/from there in bad weather may be difficult.
I do not know the real reason Vueling did not load baggage but I now read on the internet several reports of them doing so - not a few pieces but all the plane load. It looks to me that they are planning with too tight headways - good weather scheduling, so to say, so that even a short delay at the beginning of the day generates chain delays. I am afraid that supposed profitability comes before than reliability of operations. But now we have learned the lesson. We were not enthusiast of having to deal with a low cost airline, even if only for the last leg of a tour. Never again.
Luca, I am sorry this happened to you but I don't think it has much to do with Vueling being a low cost airline. It is possible they share on-ground services with Iberia, who is NOT a low cost airline but who has terrible service if a flight gets cancelled or if luggage gets lost. Flying through Madrid once en route from the north to the south of Spain, Iberia got half the bags onto the flight. The other half, did not make it. Exactly half.
I've flown Vueling a few times with checked luggage and never had a problem - but I have had Iberia lose stuff before, and it is very hard to find out where it is/when it will be arriving.
I've had luggage lost by Alitalia in Sicily - also a nightmare to get back, with no real help from the airline. Same with Air France when they lost my mother's bag for 3 days when we were in Venice once.
What I am trying to say is - it doesn't matter the size of the company or the price of the ticket. Lost luggage is almost always a pain.
Shannon, I am led to suspect this accident has more to do with Vueling flight strategies than with Madrid ground baggage handling. Airlines may be cavalier with your luggage as they know the inconvenience will be yours to deal with, and loss of individual pieces of luggage may be tragedy on the customer side, but only blips on the airline side. Here we are dealing with a business group on very tight schedules. If the baggage does not come out in a short time the question will become an union issue, and once unions are involved it will become very quickly a legal issue. The tour manager (a fellow that moves orchestras round the world to the tune of 400 to 500 tickets on an average week) was already questioned in advance on the wiseness of using a low cost airline instead of renting a charter. (For example, we had long preliminary discussions about some very valuable string instruments that had to be sent by truck instead as hand luggage, as low costs do not admit instruments as hand luggage.) Giving that fellow hard time is not a smart business move.
Just for the news, 19 baggages out of 80 or so (some were travelling with hand luggage only) came with today's flight. I can foresee 10 or 20 pieces arriving with each following flight; there are five flights a week so it I expect it will take a while, but on Friday we are leaving again (thanking God by Italo train).
I do not think baggage was "lost", I think somebody made a decision to leave without baggage. I can think several reasons that justify such a move from the airline side; for example, faster turnaround time on a slightly delayed airplane. Or having more probability of landing in Florence with a lighter airplane in bad weather without being rerouted to Pisa (a much bigger problem for the airline and their delayed airplane). Still thinking that a charter to Pisa or an Iberia line flight to Bologna would have been more reliable. The tour manager chose the cheaper solution but it was a mistake.
Let me add, blunders happen but you can try to manage them. Or not. We were kept to wait about one hour before admitting that the baggage was not loaded; if you consider how tiny the Florence airport is, this is simply ridiculous. (Once our complete baggage got lost inside FCO, as we were routed to retrieve it at a wrong terminal, but you understand FCO is much larger.) Probably bad organization on the Italian side, but also bad communication with Vueling. Had they simply admitted, "Fellows, your things are not here because so and so" we would have thought "life goes this way". No, they had their airplane leave the airport before giving the news to waiting passengers.
After four full days, several pieces of baggage are still missing. The other ones came via different itineraries - one was delivered at the home of a fellow traveller by a courier at 11.30pm yesterday (!).
Another horror story. My brother, against my advice, reserved a Florence to Paris Vueling flight. Today there were rain and wind over the Florence airport, with its notoriously short runway, so other companies detoured to nearby airports. Vueling went on flying to/from Florence, but its airplane had to be light in order to leave. Again they left all the baggages in Florence, but it was not enough. So they decided to fly only the first 80 passengers arriving at check-in (including my brother), leaving 48 of them in Florence. Maybe they will leave tomorrow.