A new report on mishandled airline baggage from the Swiss-based air travel consulting group SITA has some surprises in it. The biggest, for a lot of passengers, may be how the airlines are getting so much better at handling bags: They’re not losing anywhere near as many as they used to.
LISTEN: Rick Seaney asks, “Fewer lost bags – or fewer bags to lose?”
Read Report: Lost Baggage Numbers Down Sharply podcast transcript.
Lost Bags – What a Difference Six Years Makes
First, you should know that the vast majority of all bags around the world arrive at the airport the same time as the passengers who own them. The number of bags that do have problems – what aviation experts call mishandled bags – is very small. And of those mishandled bags, only a fraction are gone for good. World-wide, the rate of mishandled bags is down sharply over the past six years:
- 2013: Mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers – 3.3%
- 2007: Mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers – 18.8%
If you can stand another statistic, that’s an improvement of more than 60 percent – and there are a lot more people flying today than there were back in 2007.
Best and Worst Regions for Lost Bags
A continental look at mishandled baggage rates per 1,000 passengers for 2013.
- Europe: 9.00
- North America: 3.22
- Asia, Australia: 1.96
How Bags Get Lost
Human error seems to account for most baggage problems. Here are the top categories:
- Transfer mishandling – 45%
- Failure to load bags – 16%
- Ticketing error/bag switch/security/other – 15%
What to Do if Your Bag is Lost
Report any lost bags – or damages or theft – immediately. Make a report with the airline before leaving the airport. Note: If your bag was lost somewhere during a connecting flight, report the problem to the airline that flew you to your final destination.