Fuming holidaymaker forced to fly 2,000 miles back to Manchester after ‘vital’ luggage left off plane

A British holidaymaker is fuming after having to abandon his holiday in Malta to fly back to the UK to pick up his missing luggage. Keen scuba-divers, Kevin Openshaw and David Ayre, had booked a two-week diving holiday in Malta through EasyJet and were looking forward to spending a week diving off Malta’s shoreline and exploring some of the deeper wrecks from the Second World War.

But when they arrived in Malta on Sunday, May 8, they discovered that one of their bags containing a vital piece of diving equipment, a rebreather, was missing. They reported the missing luggage to airport security staff who soon discovered it had been held at Manchester Airport as the bag was believed to contain a diving cylinder “and nothing else”.

With airport staff refusing to send the bag out to Kevin and David, Kevin felt forced to fly back to the UK – midway through his holiday – to claim the equipment. He told ChronicleLive that the missing bag contained a £ 6,000 rebreather only, with no cylinders or compressed air vessels – and he had already paid an additional £ 180 for sports luggage allowance to transport it.

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Kevin, from Gateshead in the North East, explained: “I had to go back and get it because the second part of the holiday cost £ 1,000 and if I didn’t have my unit that part of the holiday wouldn’t have happened. “

David, also from Gateshead, added: “We didn’t know that the case was missing until we got to Malta airport and it wasn’t on the carousel. Up to that point we had had no communication from anyone saying we haven’t been able to send your bag. The only way we found out was from Malta security people who had to email EasyJet, because even they didn’t have a number for them.

“They got an email back within the hour and we got a phone call from the people at Malta Airport when we arrived at the hotel to say it’s in Manchester and they’re not going to send it and that was it. There was no other discussion or options. We even said we would pay whatever it was to get it out to Malta because we need it. “



Kevin and David had been looking forward to their two week diving holiday and say they've not heard of anyone that's had to previously declare a rebreather in their luggage
Kevin and David had been looking forward to their two week diving holiday and say they’ve not heard of anyone that’s had to previously declare a rebreather in their luggage

A rebreather is a piece of diving equipment that absorbs the carbon dioxide of a diver’s used breath and is often used when a supply of breathing gas is limited, such as underwater. Oxygen cylinders can be fitted to rebreathers. Kevin said that when he collected his bag he saw a note attached to it which said that the bag “contains a large diving cylinder and nothing else” and could therefore not travel.

Manchester Airport said that safety is their biggest priority and explained that security staff are unable to verify whether a diving unit contains compressed air unless they inspect it, so passengers are required to declare it at check-in and show that the canister is empty. They claimed that “at least two” call-outs were made for Kevin and David to return to the security area to discuss the luggage that had not been declared – but the men say they did not hear any being made.

To claim the luggage, Kevin flew back to Manchester, via Munich, and slept in his car at Manchester Airport – before flying back to Malta via Brussels the following day. In total, he says he lost four days of his holiday due to the traveling and exhaustion when he was back in Malta.



The rebreather, pictured, had been flagged by security staff as it hadn't been declared
The rebreather, pictured, had been flagged by security staff as it hadn’t been declared

“I’m very disappointed because all of this could have been sorted out on Monday morning at Manchester Airport,” he said. “If they had said over the tannoy: ‘Can Kevin Openshaw and David Ayre go to security?’ we could have sorted it out and caught a flight on Monday morning!

“But instead I lost four days of my holiday because by the time I got back to Malta on the Wednesday night I was in no fit state to go diving on the Thursday because of the amount of traveling I did.”

The pair said Kevin had no issues flying back to Malta with the rebreather after he’d claimed it at Manchester Airport and said they’d not heard of anyone who had had to declare that they’re traveling with a rebreather.

During their trip, Kevin and David explored whether it would be possible to hire the equipment in Malta, but found that the cost was too high. “We asked around to see whether Kevin could hire a rebreather. But it’s £ 6,000 for a second hand one and up to £ 14,000 for a new one so obviously no one really wants to hire us a unit because if anything goes wrong it becomes an expensive fix, “David said.

“Then we looked at the option of hiring normal tanks and cylinders but again that would end up with using helium for the deeper dives which would then work out far more expensive to use gasses rather than the rebreather, which uses less gas by recycling what you ‘re breathing. “

A spokesperson for Manchester Airport said: “Our hold baggage security team identified a diving unit within a passenger’s bag which had not been declared at check-in. It was not immediately possible to verify that the unit did not contain compressed air, which has the potential to endanger an aircraft, so the bag was not cleared for loading. At least two announcements were made requesting the passenger returned to the security check area but he did not do so.

“We are satisfied that all processes were followed correctly in this case and reasonable attempts were made to contact the passenger involved after his bag was held. Passenger safety is and always will be our overriding priority.”

A spokesperson for EasyJet added: “The safety of our customers and crew is our highest priority and in-line with security procedures we ask customers ahead of their flight to ensure they do not carry certain restricted items and to declare if they have any potentially restricted items in their luggage when checking in their bags.

“As Mr Openshaw did not declare his diving equipment to be able to confirm its safety for carriage, his bag had to be held by airport security staff. We understand that attempts were made by the airport to reach Mr Openshaw to confirm the contents of his luggage, however as no response was received it could not be permitted to travel. We are in touch with Mr Openshaw to provide clear information on the process of transporting his equipment, ahead of his return flight. “

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