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Why is Basel's EuroAirport constantly being evacuated?

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Why is Basel's EuroAirport constantly being evacuated?
Basel EuroAirport evacuations too frequent, officials say. File photo:Dinkins/Depositphoto.com
13:37 CEST+02:00
Basel EuroAirport is a constant topic of discussion, with many wondering why the airport has been evacuated several times in the past months.

Over the past few weeks, Swiss news sites have repeatedly reported chaos at Basel EuroAirport, also known as the Basel-Mulhouse airport. In many cases, the reason for evacuation was excess luggage that had been left behind by passengers.

Fortunately, alerts of unclaimed baggage were always a false alarm, and bombs were never discovered. Nonetheless, the events have left passengers frustrated and fearful.

The problem: Too many reports of unclaimed excess luggage

Last Tuesday, twelve flights were affected by forgotten or abandoned pieces of luggage. Meanwhile, on Friday, the French police stopped all air traffic from flying because of a piece of unclaimed luggage, according to news outlet SRF.

Basel EuroAirport media spokesperson Vivienne Gaskell praised the French police for their prompt response in eliminating any risk, but said these incidents are still too common.

READ ALSO: Readers reveal - How Switzerland could improve its public transport system

"The evacuations have also accumulated in recent weeks because of the excess luggage of passengers. They leave their belongings behind or in the wrong spot. That has to stop," Ms. Gaskell told SRF news.

The airport is urging passengers to be more responsible for their belongings and learn about the baggage limits of airlines before travelling.

Possible solutions: A special counter and speaker announcements

Euro-Airport has responded to the frequent cases of stray excess luggage by creating a special counter where excess baggage can be handed over for "a small amount" - and then picked up again at a later time. 

Frequent loudspeaker announcements will also be made, reminding passengers to keep their luggage close to them.

https://depositphotos.com/stock-photos/airport.html?qview=52587103

File photo: furtaev/Depositphoto.com

Zurich offers "Bomb Squad" and a quicker strategy

Zurich Airport is also trying to minimise false alarms due to unclaimed baggage alerts.

"The Airport has a quick response strategy where trained police patrol ask people in the immediate vicinity of the luggage to secure the place as they find the owner of the luggage as fast as possible,' Philipp Bircher, a media spokesman for Zurich Airport told Blick news site.

 "If that fails, the Bomb Squad, a special unit of the Zurich cantonal police, is called to assess the situation," explains Mr. Bircher. In most instances, the abandoned object or luggage is eliminated or quickly sectioned off from the public.

READ ALSO: The perils and pitfall of Swiss train etiquette

Unlike EuroAiport, an entire terminal has never had to be evacuated due to an abandoned object. 

"Of course, I cannot comment on Basel. We have three check-in areas and a security control building that can be entered from two sides. As a result, even with a partial blockage, passengers can be directed to reach their gates" adds Mr. Bircher.

What you need to know about EuroAirport Baggage Rules:

Hand baggage:

You may normally take a single piece of baggage into the cabin at no cost if its measurements (width + length + height) do not exceed 115 cm.

Depending on the airline, however, the weight allowance and dimensions of the hand luggage vary. Contact your airline directly to learn the requirements.

Checked baggage:

Generally, the weight of registered baggage may not exceed the following limits:

First-class 40 kg

Business-class 30 kg

Economy- class 20 kg

Charter flights 20 kg

Normally, the measurements of a piece of baggage may not exceed 178 cm (width + length+ height). Otherwise, it will be considered as bulky baggage.

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