Airlines losing 3000 bags – every hour of every day

In 2009, the worlds airlines lost a whopping 25 million pieces of passenger luggage. That comes down to just under 3000 bags every hour of every day, all year long. These shocking statistics were published by SITA – one of the operators of airline and airport computer systems, using data from the World Traver luggage database.

SITA breaks down the reasons behind bags not arriving at their destination:

  • During aircraft transfers – 52%
  • Failed to load – 16%
  • Ticketing error / bag switch / security / other – 13%
  • Airport / customs / weather / space-weight restriction – 6%
  • Loading / offloading error – 7%
  • Arrival station mishandling – 3%
  • Tagging error – 3%

There is some good news though – 96.6% of all bags do manage to reach their owner – eventually. This still leaves over 800,000 bags that end up going unclaimed. Bags that never arrive are often simply abandoned by their owners, or fall victim to theft at the airport. After six months, all unclaimed bags are donated, sold or destroyed.

The real good news is that airlines have managed to lose fewer bags. Compared to 2008, airlines managed to decrease lost bag numbers by 23.8%. Of course, part of this is due to decreasing passenger numbers, but the worldwide decline in air travel was just 2.9%.

Bottom line is that airlines are investing heavily in luggage management, and even though they may never reach a perfect score, the current trend is very positive one – and one that will benefit everyone that checks bags. Of course, as luggage fees have started increasing, it is also refreshing to see that airlines are actually doing something with all that new money.

Don’t forget to follow our tips on keeping your luggage safe at the airport!

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.

Airlines losing less of our baggage – for the wrong reasons

Here is (what should be) a great piece of news from the aviation world – domestic US carriers are losing fewer of our bags.

A staggering 1.3 million bags were not lost when compared to statistics from the previous year.

Normally, airlines would have a good reason to be proud of this result. It could be because they are paying more attention to their baggage procedures, or simply that their staff are learning to be more respectful of our belongings, but sadly, the reason they are losing less luggage has a far more logical explanation.

People are not checking as many bags.

The airlines, in their infinite wisdom decided that checking a bag is a luxury that should be sold to us, in addition to our ticket fee.

Too many passengers refuse to pay this fee, so as more people drag all their luggage on board the plane, fewer bags have to be placed in the baggage hold. It all makes perfect sense.

American Airlines was the clear winner with a 26% improvement over 2007. But of course, American Airlines was also the first of the major carriers to introduce the pay-to-check baggage scheme.

Eventually, the whole thing will probably come back and bite the airlines in the ass. As more people carry more stuff on to the plane, departure times will get delayed, flight attendants will have to spend more time finding space for bags that don’t fit in the overhead compartment, and passengers will still get their bags checked for free when the crew have to do a gate check for any bags that can’t be stored in the cabin.