A Texas airport worker says she dealt with lines of crying passengers and around 70 items of lost luggage every day during the holiday period

A Texas airport worker says she dealt with lines of crying passengers and around 70 items of lost luggage every day during the holiday period
American Airlines' baggage handlers transport passengers' items at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.Mark Peterson/Corbis via Getty Images
  • A baggage handler said she faced distraught passengers and piles of lost bags over the holidays.
  • Jamecia Vaughn, who works at Dallas Fort Worth Airport, said passengers were her biggest challenge.

A baggage handler at Dallas Fort Worth Airport said she had to grapple with crying passengers and mountains of lost luggage every day over the holiday period.

Jamecia Vaughn, who has worked at the Texas airport for a year, said it was her first time working during the festive season. It turned out to be the most challenging time of the year.

"I wasn't expecting the traffic, the amount of cancellations, the amount of delays, and people crying and upset that they can't get to their families," said Vaughn, who works for American Airlines under airport services company Prospect. "We were pretty slammed."

Air travel was in turmoil during December and January as passenger numbers soared at the same time that blizzards hit the US and the industry suffered from staff shortages. As a result, thousands of flights were delayed or canceled, luggage went missing, and passengers became distraught over disrupted trips.

"I wouldn't even say the bags were a challenge. It was passengers," said Vaughn, who works in the baggage claim area and is the person who passengers approach if they've got a problem with their luggage.

On each day that there were flight cancellations, Vaughn said she had lines of passengers in front of her, asking where their bags were. Between 10 and 20 of the passengers would typically be crying, which made it even more difficult, she said.


Some passengers told Vaughn about the Christmas gifts they had in their missing suitcases, others cried to her about not being able to visit relatives during the holidays because of a canceled flight. Vaughn said she tried to be empathetic and put herself in their shoes.

"They're tired, they're upset, they're stressed," she said. "I would feel the same if I was them."

'Bag disaster'

On an average day, Vaughn said there were between five and 10 bags that were unclaimed in the terminal she works in, which she said was usually very quiet. During the holidays, she had around 70 lost bags — and that's not including the luggage in the bag room, she added.

"When all the cancellations and the flight delays happened, bags made it to us and the passenger never made it," she said.

Vaughn and her team kept all of the bags but ran out of space in the bag room. They started lining the bags up in the airport, making aisles down the middle so the workers could walk down and check if there was a contact number that was on each suitcase.


"It was a bag disaster," Vaughn said. "Some of these bags are like 125 pounds. I'm like, what do y'all have in here?"

The team managed to move the bags out fairly quickly. Within three days, the 70 bags were gone, she said. Some crew and airport workers felt the pressure and consequently didn't work as effectively as they could have done, Vaughn said. She added that she tries hard to ensure luggage "flows" off the plane.

Still, she considered her colleagues "one big family" and said everyone was there to help each other.

Dallas Fort Worth Airport told Insider to contact the airlines because they manage passengers' baggage. American Airlines and Prospect didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.