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Ripple Effect From Cancellations Causes Luggage To Pile Up At DIA

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Unclaimed luggage at DIA on Tuesday (credit: Steve O'Neal of Highlands Ranch)

Unclaimed luggage at DIA on Tuesday (credit: Steve O’Neal of Highlands Ranch)

Investigator Rick Sallinger

DENVER. (CBS4) – With more than 3,000 flights delayed or canceled nationwide, the luggage at Denver International Airport has been piling.

The situation was much improved Tuesday afternoon from Monday and even Tuesday morning. CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger still wanted to know who was watching all the unattended bags.

At the United Airlines baggage claim it looked like organized chaos. There were lonely bags sitting unattended while others were placed behind ropes. But there was nobody nearby to watch them and anybody could walk by and help themselves.

“It would be pretty easy for anybody to just walk by and grab a bag and walk off. Nobody is really watching them,” said traveler Paul Dixon, who couldn’t find his luggage.

Just to see, Sallinger had somebody put a bag down, and a while later Sallinger picked it up. No questions were asked or identification requested.

At some airports bag tags are matched to the person claiming them, but not at DIA. Airport spokesperson Laura Coale says it’s left up to each individual airline.

“This is a very rare situation. We had a lot of canceled flights of a prolonged period of time,” Coale said.

Delta Airlines had a small rope around its unclaimed bags, which seemed to leave more of a message than effect. At times they were left totally unattended.

Last year there were just 30 thefts reported at DIA. John Papelbon, 52, was charged with stealing several of the bags.

RELATED: DIA Bag Thief Charged, Suspected Of Stealing Peter Frampton’s Luggage

Southwest Airlines appeared to have the best security with unclaimed luggage placed in a well roped-off area to be retrieved with identification.

Sallinger talked to representatives from several airlines who all told him similar answers – that it’s not a normal situation, it’s due to the ripple effect from the weather back east.

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