If you’re a human being breathing air, then you or someone you know has had luggage ‘misplaced’ by an airline at some point in your existence. Though apparently baggage-loss statistics are down in 2010, they’re still at an astoundingly high number. You might ask, how many bags are lost? Well, in 2009, according to the 2010 Air Transport Industry Baggage Report, airlines misplaced 25 million articles of luggage. In other words, imagine that every person in New York City woke up one day to find that their luggage had been misplaced. Perhaps this puts the amount in perspective.
However, despite the gratuitously large amount, baggage loss is down by 24% from 2008, and as much as 40% from 2007. As baggage-loss numbers declined, so too did the airline industry’s savings. Having reduced their attrition by 7.8 million bags from 2008 to 2009, they saved $460 million. Imagine what the industry would save if the numbers continued their declining trends in the following years.
Of course, some of this reduction may be due to bag-checking fees and passengers finding ways to avoid the bag-check line altogether. tvnz reads that bags go missing 52% of the time in mishandling, 16% of the time in load failure, 13% in bag switch or ticketing error, and the rest of the time, luggage is lost due to customs mistakes, arrival mishandling, and the inevitable tag error. If you’re not checking your bags, you don’t have to worry about any of this.
AirConsumer offers monthly Air Travel Consumer Reports, if you’re interested to observe monthly trends within the industry – most notably, trends regarding baggage mishandling. In April of 2010, for example, Southwest topped the list for total baggage reports listed, with 9 million ‘enplaned’ passengers, and 24,811 baggage reports. Statistically, however, this is a much fairer number than Delta’s nearly 7.7 million enplaned passengers and almost 22,000 baggage reports. And if you’re one of the victims of luggage loss, lostbaggage.org has some helpful options for when airlines fail.