Passengers frustrated as Greece heatwave forces Scoot flights to leave without luggage
Passengers on board at least two Scoot flights from Athens to Singapore had to fly without their baggage after the heatwave engulfing Greece affected aircraft performance.
On Tuesday, another Scoot flight from Athens to Singapore, which is usually a direct non-stop route, had to refuel in Amritsar, India, as the plane began the journey with less fuel to accommodate baggage.
In response to queries, the budget airline attributed the disruptions to the “extreme weather conditions” that have been afflicting the Greek capital, where temperatures have exceeded 40 deg C.
It is harder for planes to take off in extreme heat as higher temperatures reduce the performance of an aircraft’s engines and their ability to generate the lift needed for take-off.
A spokesman for Scoot said baggage on board certain flights from Athens to Singapore were left behind due to “operational considerations”.
She said Scoot has since reached out to affected customers to arrange for their baggage to be sent to their homes or hotels.
When asked by The Straits Times, the airline did not specify how many flights from Athens were affected by the ongoing heatwave, and if future flights would be impacted. It only said that it would continue to monitor the weather conditions in Greece and adjust operations as required.
Scoot, which is Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) budget arm, flies from Athens to Singapore four times a week using Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
“Scoot sincerely apologises for the inconvenience caused. The safety of our customers and crew is our top priority, and we will continue to provide our customers with the necessary assistance required,” its spokesman added.
When asked, a spokesman for Athens International Airport said it was not able to disclose how many airlines taking off from the Greek capital faced performance issues due to the heatwave. He added that any baggage stranded at the airport is handled directly by the individual airline and its assigned ground handler.
Passengers on board the affected Scoot flights expressed frustration about the lack of updates from the airline and its Singapore ground handler Sats.
A Twitter user, who said he flew from Athens on Saturday, complained that his flight was delayed by two hours and that passengers were not told that their checked luggage was removed from the plane before take-off.
In a tweet four days later, the user said there was still no update on where his baggage was.
Another Scoot passenger, who flew from Athens to Singapore on July 20, told ST that she also had no idea that her checked bags were taken off the plane before departure.
The Australian national in her early 50s, who declined to be named, was returning to Singapore with her husband and daughter after a holiday in Greece. The flight was delayed by nearly two hours.
She said: “My husband and I were near the cockpit and I could see that there were some terse discussions going on. In hindsight, we realised it may have been because the plane was overloaded but no one said anything about this.”
Three of her family’s four checked bags did not arrive in Singapore with them, and there were others on the same flight who faced the same issue, she told ST.
While she was told that her bags would be on the next flight to Singapore and arrive the next morning, she was reunited with her luggage only on Monday, four days later.
The passenger said: “I appreciate it was chaos on the ground, but the whole response from the Scoot and Sats call centres was terrible. I phoned Scoot about four or five times, and I phoned Sats, I reckon, about 30 times. They had no idea what was going on.”
In other parts of Europe and the United States which are experiencing extreme heatwaves, several airlines also had to reduce fuel loads and shed passengers or baggage to reduce the weight of their planes for take-off.
Earlier in July, several Delta Air Lines passengers voluntarily got off a flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta after aircraft weight issues due to the heat caused delays, according to Bloomberg.
SIA, which operates flights to Singapore from European cities, said its services have not been impacted by the heatwave and will continue to operate as scheduled. “We are monitoring the situation closely, and will make the appropriate adjustments to our flight routes where necessary,” the carrier added.
- Additional reporting by Elaine Lee