According to documents obtained by newspaper 20 Minuten, Swissport is offering staff the chance to win two free Swiss flights anywhere in the world in a prize draw which will take place when targets for overweight luggage fines are met.
The memo to staff, which was headed with the Swissport logo, told employees that any overweight bag should incur a fine.
The competition aims to encourage employees to clamp down on overweight checked bags after a “drastic reduction” in the amount of fines handed down for heavy suitcases on Swiss flights, said the newspaper.
One employee, who wished to remain anonymous, told the paper that the promise of free flights had engendered an unhealthy sense of competition among ground staff.
“Everyone wants to win the tickets. So everyone wants the target to be reached quickly,” he said.
Some staff are neglecting to tell passengers with overweight bags that they may take items out and put them in hand luggage, he added.
“The fine is usually given to people who are not frequent flyers or elderly people,” he said.
Fines vary from 60 to 240 francs depending on the flight distance and the type of ticket.
Contacted by 20 Minuten, André Bähler from the Foundation for Consumer Protection (SKS) said that the competition should not take place because it encourages employees to hand out unnecessary fines.
“Managers must realize that their staff are working against customers instead of giving them good service,” he said.
Myriam Ziesack, spokesperson for Swiss International Airlines, confirmed to 20 Minuten that the company had launched a competition in conjunction with Swissport after ground staff failed to meet fixed targets for overweight luggage fines.
“We could have reacted in various ways, but we decided to put a reward system in place,” she said.
Customer service is not being adversely affected by the competition, added Ziesack.
“We haven’t received any complaints from customers on this matter. Since the target was not achieved in July we can only assume that fines are being given out correctly and staff are not abusing the system.”