Delta Flies 1,000 Lost Bags Back to the U.S. From London After Heathrow Passenger Cap Cancels Flights 

The airline delivered the luggage on its own flights after the London airport canceled flights due to its newly announced passenger cap.

Airbus A330 Delta Airlines in flight
Photo: Massimo Insabato//Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images

When Delta Air Lines had 1,000 bags stranded in London's Heathrow Airport, they got creative, chartering a flight to fly those bags across the Atlantic and back to their owners in the United States.

The airline, which confirmed to Travel + Leisure on Thursday that it was forced to cancel a scheduled passenger flight due to Heathrow's newly enacted cap on passenger capacity, was left with 1,000 checked bags from that flight and others. Delta also happened to have an Airbus A330-200 aircraft the carrier needed to get back to the U.S. That's when the lightbulb went off.

"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 Delta spokesperson told T+L. "Delta flight 9888 from Heathrow to Delta's Detroit hub flew 1,000 bags back to the U.S., where teams then forwarded the bags on to our customers."

Passengers who had been booked on the canceled flight were then rebooked on other flights, according to the airline.

While the delayed bags got the VIP treatment, they did not travel in the passenger cabin, but rather in the designated baggage bins as is typical.

Earlier this week, Heathrow asked airlines to cut back on selling summer flights and introduced a capacity cap of no more than 100,000 passengers per day. The drastic action comes as the airport has been dealing with significant lines and baggage issues in recent weeks with images circulating of lost luggage piled-up in the terminals.

Airlines all over the world have been dealing with mass cancellations this summer, blaming the trend on a combination of air traffic control problems and staffing shortages and preemptively trimming summer and fall schedules to cope. Air Canada even temporarily stopped accepting pets in the baggage hold until Sept. 12 "due to longer than usual airport delays, and for the safety and comfort of your pet."

For travelers who want to avoid baggage issues, a carry-on bag is likely their best bet and packing strategically can do wonders.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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