U.S. Airlines Lose Fewer Bags than Ever

Last month, FareCompare’s Social Media Manager Collin Quick returned to Dallas after a lovely trip to Ireland. His bag did not. Another case of what the Bureau of Transportation Statistics calls “mishandled baggage,” but most travelers refer to as lost bags.

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Best Record Since 1987

But fewer bags are being lost. In fact, 2012 was the best year ever for lost luggage – or at least for the past 25 years, which is how long the government’s been keeping track of these figures.

The statistics are based on reports from the nation’s 15 largest airlines. Last year, they received lost bag reports at a rate of 3.09 for every 1,000 passengers, which beat the most recent record of 3.35 reports set in 2011. The BTS first began collecting these statistics back in September 1987.

Right bags vs. wrong bags (there is a big difference)

Bags are Rarely Lost for Good

It’s important to note that lost bags are rarely lost for good. The vast majority of them are discovered within hours or days of their scheduled arrival time, though that of course is not very helpful to travelers on the go who need the contents of their Samsonite.  It’s especially disturbing when you’ve paid a hefty fee for the bag.

Fortunately for Quick, his lost bag did indeed turn up and was delivered to his apartment by United Airlines the following day.


Published: February 13, 2013