An estimated 150 Hong Kong passengers were forced to rebook air tickets or lost their baggage after a flight route from Amsterdam into the city faced multiple hiccups this month, with the busiest airport in the Netherlands hit by staff shortages. With mandatory hotel quarantine measures in Hong Kong, affected travellers had to land in the city on time or risk losing their bookings, while missing baggage meant those who made it lacked essential items in confinement. Officials from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport had announced flight cuts over the summer on Thursday, citing too few security workers to screen passengers as demand skyrocketed amid eased pandemic restrictions worldwide. The airport said in a statement that on average from July 7 until the end of the month, the daily passenger capacity that security staff could handle was already exceeded by 13,500 slots. Apart from Schiphol, airports throughout Europe are also struggling to cope with staff shortages and pent-up demand after two pandemic years. The cancellations at the Netherlands air hub at the height of the holiday season mean thousands of travellers are likely to be affected each day, but it is still unclear how many flights are disrupted. Hong Kong travellers in a fix as airline routes face bans over Covid-19 passengers Hong Kong residents such as Leon Lau found himself stranded in Schiphol for seven hours after his British Airways BA430 flight on June 9 was delayed by two hours, causing him to miss his Cathay Pacific connecting flight CX270 back to the city. The 24-year-old student who recently graduated in Ireland accused both airlines of passing the buck to each other, with 70 passengers missing their flight to Hong Kong. He said a Cathay Pacific employee told him “the carrier that had caused the delay is fully responsible for arranging replacement flights for all passengers affected”, while British Airways said it was Cathay’s responsibility as they bought tickets via the airline. “We all were abandoned in Amsterdam for many hours and when we tried to ask for help via phone, email and web chat, we were totally ignored,” said Lau, who was travelling with his mother. “We had young students returning home, elderly people who were on their own … We were scared, helpless and clueless. Customer care was totally forgotten and we seemed to be a burden or inconvenience that neither airline wanted to touch.” Lau and his mother ended up paying €2,800 (HK$23,100) for two KLM Royal Dutch Airlines tickets to Hong Kong on the same day, just so they could make it to their quarantine hotel on time. Under Hong Kong’s tough arrival rules, travellers must undergo seven days of quarantine at designated hotels if they are double-vaccinated against Covid-19, and 14 if they are not. Lau said British Airways had eventually offered to book them on another flight with Turkish Airlines either on June 10 or 11, but he had to time his arrival with his hotel booking or risk a logistical nightmare. Limited flights, strict rules blamed for keeping foreigners away from Hong Kong Richard Langford, a 63-year-old permanent resident, was only supposed to stay in Britain with his wife for three weeks visiting his elderly mother. But their initial May 23 flight from Turkish Airlines was banned by Hong Kong authorities for five days, after several passengers on an earlier one either tested positive on arrival or did not comply with regulations. The earliest alternative flight out he could find was only three weeks later through British Airways from London to Amsterdam on June 15, and then a connecting flight to Hong Kong on the same day. Langford’s BA430 flight landed more than 20 minutes late, while his CX270 connecting flight took off only four hours later, which he suspected was because of two passengers being rejected for not meeting Hong Kong requirements. His woes did not end there. The couple later discovered to their horror that their baggage was missing upon landing in the city, with about 80 transiting passengers on the flight also facing similar issues. The pair were left without fresh clothing and essentials for their hotel quarantine. “I only have the clothes I wore on the flight, so I had to buy some online [and get them delivered to the hotel]. Some things I had packed to keep myself busy in quarantine were also in my missing baggage,” Langford said. “Cathay Pacific called and emailed me [on Friday and Saturday]. It sounds like they don’t even know where the bags are, and we’ve been back in Hong Kong [for a while].” A Cathay representative said the airline had tried “as much as possible” to keep the delayed departure of both CX270 flights on June 9 and 15 within the designated take-off slot and other operational requirements. The airline did not state how many passengers were affected. It was understood British Airways had made alternative arrangements on June 9 for affected passengers because of its flight delay, the representative said. “Regrettably, due the operational issues at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the baggage of these affected passengers couldn’t be uplifted onto flight CX270 on time,” Cathay said, adding its staff had been in close contact with passengers and Schiphol to deliver baggage items to those affected. The Post has contacted British Airways for comment.