The airport gave the expatriate 30 days to reclaim his property from lost and found at a cost
A ex-pat from Northern Ireland has branded Belfast International Airport “a complete shambles” after security officials who removed items from his bag for a check failed to put them back.
The airport then told Richard Kelly he would have to pay for the return of his ‘lost property’ when he collected it — although he was already back home in New Zealand.
The Coleraine native passed through the travel hub to fly to Spain last month while enjoying his first trip home since 2019.
Mr Kelly admits an inspection of his luggage was justified, as he hadn’t put his toiletries into plastic bags as required.
“I put my hands up,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking, so they definitely had a reason to look in my bag.
“But they should have put everything they took out back in.”
It was only when Mr Kelly went to charge his phone after arriving in Alicante that he realised his cable and travel adapter were missing.
“I ruffled through my stuff and it wasn’t there,” he recalled. “It’s a world adapter, I had to buy in an airport and it’s a good brand — so it was pretty pricey.
“The total cost of the missing items is about £60 which is less than the excess of any insurance policy.”
Mr Kelly later became convinced it had been mishandled during the screening process in Belfast so he sent an email to the airport’s customer service team, but he was appalled by the response.
“They told me that they had located the items in lost-and-found and that I can pick them up during office hours from Monday to Friday,” he recalled.
“They also told me it would cost me £5 which I think is pretty disgusting.
“I replied making it clear that I didn’t lose anything — they have made a mistake and they need to just admit it and fix it.”
In an email exchange seen by the Belfast Telegraph the airport informed the disgruntled customer that he must collect the items within 30 days or arrange for the time limit to be extended.
The correspondence cites a lack of access to “packaging materials” as the reason staff are unable to mail it to him, instead requesting that he send a pre-paid envelope.
“It’s arrogant and disrespectful,” Mr Kelly said.
“I can afford to replace the items but that’s not the point.
“They need to take responsibility for what happened — they’ve messed up, I’ve challenged them on it and now they should do the decent thing.
“Mistakes happen, no one is perfect, but don’t make people jump through hoops.”
The marketing professional slammed Belfast International Airport as an “embarrassment” as he warned its reputation could damage Northern Ireland’s image around the world.
“It’s not the busiest airport in the world and yet it’s a complete shambles,” he said.
“If they are treating tourists like this then I think it has an impact.
“It would put anyone off visiting.
“You only have to look at the reviews online to see what people think – it’s a horror show.”
Mr Kelly elevated his complaint to the airport’s managing director Graham Keddie informing him of the “unbelievably poor customer service” and the “laughable incompetence” he has endured.
However he did not receive a response.
“It’s shameful I’m having to work so hard to get them to put things right,” Mr Kelly said.
In response to queries from this newspaper, a spokesperson for Belfast International Airport confirmed Mr Kelly’s items will now be returned free of charge.
“We apologise for the inconvenience that this passenger experienced at the airport,” they said.
“The issue has now been resolved and belongings will be posted directly to him.
“We would encourage passengers to make sure they have all their possessions with them when they leave security.”