Report: Airlines Worldwide are Losing Fewer Bags

According to SITA – a Geneva-based airline consulting group – last year was a great year in terms of mishandled baggage, also known as lost bags. Global carriers lost 20 percent fewer than they did in 2010.

Are Fewer Bags Being Lost in the U.S.?

Airlines Saved $650 Million by Not Losing Bags

According to its organizations Baggage Report 2011, global figures for mishandled luggage shake out as follows:

  • 2011: 25.8 million mishandled bags or 8.99 per 1,000 passengers
  • 2011: 32.3 million mishandled bags or 12.07 per 1,000 passengers

The report goes on to say that the improved record represents a savings to the airline industry of more than $650 million. Presumably it also saves the airlines a certain amount of pain from complaining passengers.

Listen as air travel analyst Rick Seaney reveals why he never loses a bag:

If Airline Loses Your Bag, How Much will You Get Paid?

Fewer Bags to Lose

However, the statistics may not tell the complete story. Yes, airlines are getting better at keeping track of bags and several reports including those from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports bear this out. However, better baggage systems aren’t the whole story. Consider the following:

Fewer passengers check baggage: More passengers are using carry-on bags to avoid costly checked-baggage fees. This may change, however, if more airlines follow Allegiant’s lead and begin charging for onboard hand luggage.

The Volcano that Brought Europe to a Halt

Grounded flights: 2010 was a devastating year for airlines as thousands of European flights were grounded by the erupting Icelandic volcano. Fewer flights means fewer bags to lose.

Nevertheless, fewer bags are being lost. In fact, figures show an improvement of more than 50 percent in costs per passenger due to lost bags over the past five years.

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Published: April 18, 2012