BA checked in my bag and gave it back with Nazi graffiti

British Airways this week apologised to a passenger whose luggage was daubed with Nazi graffiti apparently while in transit.

Emma Pelta, 29, a member of Loughton Synagogue in Essex, flew from London Gatwick to Orlando, Florida, last December.

But it was not until she arrived at her boyfriend’s home in Florida, she says, that she realised her bags were marked with a large swastika and the initials NF (assumed to stand for National Front).

She has spent the past five months requesting an apology from the airline, calling them more than 20 times.


Emma Pelta with her daubed bag

It was not until the JC contacted BA this week that a member of their customer-service team phoned Ms Pelta to apologise and offer a £150 flight voucher. BA also promised to send flowers and a letter of apology.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Ms Pelta, a medical representative who gave up her job to go to Florida.

“They should have apologised earlier. I don’t think they necessarily understand the seriousness of seeing a swastika and NF initials on my bag.

“To me, it is a big deal, and I am completely offended beyond words with what I saw. I told them I still want to receive an actual letter of apology.

“On behalf of the Jewish community, I want to know that this is going to be investigated properly with steps being taken to ensure the safety of the community and that something like this does not happen again while bags are in their care.”

Ms Pelta first contacted the airline from Florida on the day she realised that her bags had been marked.

“I told them that I wanted a letter of apology and some sort of compensation for my bag.”

She received a $160 cheque (£80) to pay for the damage to her bag, but was told that the matter needed to be dealt with in the UK.

When she returned to London in March, she contacted BA again, only to receive a letter written on behalf of Heathrow Terminal 5 apologising for any baggage problems.

“I mean, I flew from Gatwick. Were they having a laugh?”

She said that, despite the vouchers, she would be reluctant to fly with BA again.

A BA spokesperson said: “We have apologised profusely to Ms Pelta and offered her a discount on future travel. We are sorry that she did not get called earlier and are also very sorry for any distress that has been caused.”

Though the airline said it was “concerned” about “how this bag may have been damaged and drawn on”, it refused to comment further on any internal inquiry as to the circumstances.

Ms Pelta is flying back to Florida next month. This time she is flying Virgin.

    Last updated: 8:16am, May 28 2008