42 million bags mishandled, more than 1 million lost for good

Airlines around the world now have their incompetence measured! The same companies that get irritated when you try to carry on everything you own mishandled (i.e., lost) 42 million pieces of luggage in 2007, according to the Air Transport Users Council (AUC). This is an unbelievable increase from the 2006 level of 34 million and 30 million in 2005. Making matters worse, 1.2 million were “irretrievably lost” in 2007.

Not only are the raw numbers increasing, the rate of stupidity is accelerating. The amount of mishandled luggage grew 13.3 percent from 2005 to 2006. From 2006 to 2007, it sped up to 25.3 percent. Clearly, the airlines are getting better at being worse.

But, why should we dwell on the past when we can fear for the future instead? AUC worries that the number of bags mishandled could reach 70 million a year by 2019, based on forecasts of a 100 percent increase in the number of passengers flying annually over the coming decade.

With all this mayhem, there’s one thing you can count on: not being reimbursed fairly for your lost bags. The AUC says that passengers were not compensated appropriately “on too many occasions” because they did not have receipts for the items inside. Let this be a lesson to you. When you buy that new shirt, put the receipt in your suitcase – likewise for your hat, gloves, shoes and cell phone. This is clearly the only place where you’ll need them.

Oh, wait! Don’t put the receipts in your suitcase! Your suitcase will probably get lost! Stash them in your favorite carry-on instead.