A youtube video ostensibly showing unclaimed baggage being destroyed has been refuted as laughable by Christchurch Airport CEO Jim Boult.
“This is an example of how things on youtube can be utterly misleading through being taken out of context. These bags were old unwanted bags donated for our baggage handling trials before our new terminal opened,” he explained.
In 2010, Christchurch Airport went on radio and contacted local schools and clubs to ask for 600 unwanted bags that would be used in months of rigorous testing of its new baggage handling system. People were asked to fill the bags with newspapers, old books and unwanted clothing. They were clearly told the bags would not be returned.
“At the end of the trials, these bags were, to use a Christchurch term, munted,” said Jim Boult. “They were torn or stained or had faulty catches – some had completely fallen apart. They were not bags anyone else would want. We did try to see if they could be re-used by another airport doing bag trials, but it was going to be too expensive to ship them overseas. So, to reiterate, this footage is NOT of airport staff destroying lost or unclaimed bags. It shows the disposal of old unwanted bags people were happy to donate to the airport, knowing they would never be returned.”
For Jim Boult there’s a clear lesson in how the footage has been presented: “It underscores the need to take youtube not just with a grain of salt, but a bushel of salt – and to know that what you see changes when you know the truth, and have the accurate context.”