Samsonite Orphans: Losing Baggage

We’ve all had the experience of standing forlornly at the
turning metal conveyor of baggage claim, and wondering whether your bag will ever come out. The other passengers come
and go, happily grabbing their suitcases, duffels and backpacks, and there you are waiting, growing increasingly
embarrassed as people stare, their expressions masks of schadenfreud. It has happened to everyone…and to some of us
more than others.

But how often, really, do the airlines lose bags?

A fine question I’m glad you
asked. Turns
out it’s pretty often
. Yes, an estimated 30 million bags were temporarily lost by airlines in 2005, 200,000 of which
were never to be seen by their owners again. Call them the Samsonite orphans. The problem, says a report released
Monday, is getting worse.

But how bad is it really in the scheme of things? I mean, you get your bags MOST
of the time, and even when they come on a later flight, it’s often the case that the airline will drive them to your
house. Isn’t that nice of them?

Here are the numbers: The 30 million misdirected bags comprised only 1
percent of the 3 billion bags processed last year by airports, up from 0.7 percent in 2004. So, see, there are 300 of
you on the plane…3 of you will lose your luggage. Will it be you? Probably.