Bags are a big item for Willie Walsh, the genial chief of British Airways. They are after all major issue at BA’s biggest base, London Heathrow, where the authorities have limited departing passengers to one-carry on bag. This has (a) infuriated flyers, (b) frustrated airlines, and (c) led to a dramatic increase in checked bags. Of these (c) has presented itself as ideal opportunity for the airport and its airlines to (a) lose bags, (b) lose more bags, and (c) lose record numbers of bags. This in turn has made Willie the target of considerable wrath. He reflected on this the other day in a visit to Washington where he told the International Aviation Club that “some of you maybe have found Heathrow a challenge.” But Walsh is confident that the authorities will soon lift that “senseless” restriction. He’s got a real sensitivity to bags, he said, recalling with a blush the time he tried to lift the morale of BA’s beleaguered staff by urging them to embrace change and “lose the baggage of the past.” Whoops.
Walsh says he doesn’t use that line any more. But he is almost bubbly with enthusiasm about the changes that will come with BA’s new Heathrow facility, Terminal 5, which opens in March. Indeed, he vows it will open in March, and when it does, the baggage burden will have been lifted.