A GROUP of Italian children and their teacher were left without their luggage for nearly two weeks on a school trip to Scotland.  

The pupils have been attending the summer English Language School at Edinburgh’s Fettes College – but were left without their clothing and crucial diabetes medications throughout the stay. 

The National:

Organisers of the trip were forced to source clothes for all 10 children and attempt to track down a suitable replacement medicine for the young boy.  

The group of children, aged between 12 and 16, return to Florence on Saturday – and still won’t have their luggage, despite GPS tracking from a delivery firm showing that it is sitting in Edinburgh Airport.

It comes after Menzies Aviation, the company tasked with processing luggage at Scotland’s busiest airport, issued an apology for the 3000 bags left piled up at the transport hub amid staffing problems and Brexit-linked hiring challenges. The firm admitted communication with passengers had been unacceptable. 

The National:

Federica Attorre, the pupils’ group leader, has also called airline Lufthansa and a courier she was directed towards dozens of times in recent days with no success. 

She described the situation as “disgraceful” – and told The National it had spoiled her and the children’s first impressions of Scotland. 

“We called so many times,” Attorre said. “Nobody answered me, no-one gave me a solution. 

“We leave tomorrow morning at 7am. This situation for my kids and the parents is really, really terrible. After 10 days it’s really not acceptable.” 

The first day in Scotland

Attorre said that after bags did not show up when the group arrived into Edinburgh from Bologna via Frankfurt on July 18 – a day later than planned due to a cancelled flight – the lost and found desk was closed. 

READ MORE: Scottish Affairs Committee in urgent call for Covid recovery plan for Scotland's airports

She said she spent six hours in the airport the following day trying to get in touch with Menzies Aviation. “The desk was closed, there was no number or contact,” she recalled. 

“I was there three times, those three times there was nobody to help me.” 

"Please help me"

Attorre repeatedly attempted to contact Menzies Aviation via phone and email, advising the company that a child had diabetes medication in one of the delayed bags. “Please help me”, she wrote to the firm after nine days with no luggage. 

She was advised by a customer support worker in correspondence seen by The National: “The Edinburgh team are copied in so they will be in touch soon, please use their email details going forward as I have my own operation to cover in Glasgow.” 

“Fingers crossed you get the bag back soon,” they added. 

Missing clothes and medicines

Attorre said children had been left “really unhappy” by the situation – and she has been concerned about the health of the child left without their daily medicine. 

“I have to write to the mother, she sent me a receipt but it was so difficult to find the same medication because it is not the same in Scotland,” she explained. Thankfully, she was able to source a different brand of diabetes meds to get them through the trip.

The group were able to go to Primark to buy replacement clothing for the students – but due to budgeting constraints they each were only able to get two shirts, two trousers and two jumpers to last them for two weeks. They will be able to reclaim the money spent on this from the airline.

Menzies responds to Edinburgh Airport delays 

Menzies Aviation’s corporate affairs director John Geddes admitted this week that the firm “dropped the ball” by failing to keep passengers up to date on the luggage delays. 

Despite this, Geddes could not say when the problems would be dealt with or when its temporary base at Ingliston’s Royal Highland Centre would no longer be needed. 

"We whole-heartedly apologise for the miscommunication that has taken place, but we are under immense pressure at the moment,” he said. “If I was a consumer coming through the airport, I would absolutely understand the frustrations, and where we and the industry could have done better. 

"That is simple things like making sure the desks were staffed, ensuring the phones were answered, making sure the communication is first class, and that’s what we are working on at the moment. That’s where we have fallen short of the standards that we set ourselves. 

“We will apologise to every passenger who has not been communicated with properly. We are stretched, but it is getting better as each week goes by.” 

READ MORE: Scottish passengers 'abandoned’ by easyJet in German airport for hours

Geddes added that hiring new staff was difficult because the issuing of airport passes has been tightened after Brexit.  

"The UK Government red tape is taking us 90 days at times to get people an airside pass,” he warned. 

"I have to come back to Edinburgh"

Meanwhile, Attorre’s experience of visiting Scotland for the first time has been dampened by the stressful back-and-forth. 

“Every morning for 14 days I was on the computer, on the phone to resolve the situation. But the problem is no-one answers,” she said. 

“I’m so sorry for Scotland, because Fettes College is a great experience for the students and I’ve met a lot of people from Scotland but really these services are unbelievable. 

The National:

“I have to come back to Edinburgh because I saw it just for two hours in two weeks.” 

Menzies Aviation has been contacted for comment. 

Lufthansa said due to substantial delays at a number of airports, they cannot comment on each individual experience.

Edinburgh Airport declined to comment, arguing that Menzies Aviation was responsible for luggage.