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American Airlines says most bags left in Miami have been returned following mechanical glitch

This file photo gives a behind-the-scenes look at American Airline’s baggage system before it went into action in 2012. “Various mechanical issues” on Friday kept thousands of bags from making it onto flights.
This file photo gives a behind-the-scenes look at American Airline’s baggage system before it went into action in 2012. “Various mechanical issues” on Friday kept thousands of bags from making it onto flights. MIAMI HERALD FILE

American Airlines said Monday it was still working to get every last piece of luggage back to travelers after a mechanical glitch at Miami International Airport made thousands of bags miss their flights.

The problem, which a spokeswoman said was caused by “various mechanical issues” with the baggage-handling system’s conveyor belts, affected flights that took off between 6:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday.

Roughly 2,500 passengers landed at destinations around the world Friday to find that their checked luggage had remained in Miami. More than 5,000 bags were left behind, according to spokeswoman Alexis Aran Coello. She said 50 still needed to be delivered as of late Monday afternoon.

Since Friday, “there has been a non-stop, round-the-clock effort to reunite bags with their owners,” Aran Coello said.

In a story posted Friday night, The International Business Times reported that the inconvenienced passengers included journalist Glenn Greenwald, who flew from Miami to Los Angeles (and who, Sunday night, was on stage at the Oscars when the Edward Snowden documentary he is featured in won best documentary).

Friday afternoon, Greenwald tweeted: “.@AmericanAir ‘forgot’ to load the entire plane's luggage, let passengers wait 1.5 hrs in LAX baggage claim before mentioning it. Good job!”

Several passengers took to social media to complain about the airline’s poor communication about the snafu.

“We apologize that we did not meet customer expectations when it relates to the status of their checked baggage,” Aran Coello said in a statement. She added that American employees will meet “throughout the week to assess how we can better manage this situation in the future.”

A spokesman for Miami International Airport referred questions about the glitch to American Airlines.

“The Miami-Dade Aviation Department was responsible for the construction of the North Terminal baggage handling system, which was fully completed in early 2014,” spokesman Greg Chin said in a statement. “American Airlines is now responsible for all operations and maintenance of the system.”

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