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23 Notable Lost Luggage Statistics

With the number of transfers and flights ever increasing, lost luggage continues to be a problem for the airline industry. Even though some airline charge $100 for just one bag, there are many passengers who wind up at their final destination without anything they brought with them.

In 2012, there were 26.04 million pieces of lost luggage that were tracked by the airline industry.

Lost Luggage Facts

Although this number seems like a lot, it is actually down nearly 50% from a high in 2007 of nearly 50 million items of lost luggage. A number of errors are still being made, but some of the broken components seem to be getting fixed. Still… that doesn’t change the three days of vacation someone takes without anything because their airline failed to deliver their luggage.

  • It is believed that the amount of lost luggage accounts for $2.1 billion annually in extra one-time charges to the airline industry.
  • There were 2.9 billion airline passengers that were transported in 2012, the last year a fully detailed report has been released.
  • There were 8.83 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, which was a slight drop from the year before at 8.99.
  • Delayed bagged is the most common reason for a mishandling of luggage, accounting for 82.9% of all reports.
  • The primary cause of delays in luggage is flight transfers.
  • Asia is the best region in the world, accounting for just 1.93 mishandled items per 1,000 passengers.
  • In the United States, there were 1.8 million lost luggage incidents, or 3.09 bags per 1,000 passengers, in the last recorded year.

The pinch point of the airline industry as long been the tight transfer window. When flying across the country or around the world, it is much cheaper for a passenger in most circumstances to include 1 or 2 transfers during the journey. When a flight is delayed or has a mechanical issue, however, times can become very tight. The passenger might be able to run to their next flight, but the luggage might not make it. That’s likely why Asia is leading the world in the amount luggage that they mishandle. Most flights from there are non-stop, 1 destination flights. On the US side, American Eagle has been the worst airline for lost luggage in 5 out of the last 6 years. It charges $60 for two checked bags and has lost luggage rates of 5.8 per 1,000 passengers.

How Quickly Has The Industry Been Improving?

  • In the last 9 years, lost luggage and mishandling has dropped by 43% in Europe and in Asia.
  • In North America, the improvement in lost luggage or mishandling: 56%.
  • During the same period, 500 million more global passengers took at least one flight during the year.
  • Load factors during this time period were near record levels, at 79.1%.
  • The average cost per lost luggage incident for an airline: $0.88.
  • The maximum liability limits to an airline for lost luggage per passenger: $3,300.
  • Transfer bags accounted for 48% of the lost luggage incidents that occurred within the last year.
  • The amount of luggage that is lost because there was a failure to load it on the customer’s first flight: 17%.

Although massive improvements have been made in the amount of mishandling that is occurring during transfers, which accounts for the overall drop in rates, there is still a lot of work to do. There was a 14% increase in the amount of luggage that was never loaded onto a flight. There was also a 30% increase in loading errors and that’s data that compares 2011 to 2012. The main focus is transfers and it should be, but replacing one error for another error isn’t good business.

How Can This Ongoing Problem Be Fixed?

  • In 2011, Helsinki airport reached a key objective by being able to reduce luggage transfer times between flights to just 30 minutes.
  • In return, this airport achieved a record level of growth, showing a 15.5% increase in passengers with a total of more than 15 million served.
  • The main component of their efforts is a transfer monitoring tool which gives a crew automatic notifications of delays where transfer luggage is included.

Helsinki has proven that being able to effectively reduce transfer issues with luggage can be done with a little innovation and some extra work. That can work on eliminating a number of issues that are related to lost luggage if their initiatives were implemented around the world, but it won’t eliminate them all. There are still thousands of bags that are lost every year simply because they are mislabeled.

Could Self Printed Tags Help The Industry?

  • The percentage of airline passengers who are interested in self-printed bag tags and self-bag drops: 68%.
  • 80% of the airline industry has an investment plan for bag tag self-service by the end of 2015.
  • Only 3 out of every 5 airports, however, has initiatives in place for a full self-service bag drop, but nearly 75% of airlines allow for self-service bag drops.
  • More airports and airlines are looking at assisted bag drops, as many as 82%, because of the increased security that these drops allow.
  • The most stressful part of the flight process? Checking in at the desk, ranked #1 by 12% of all airline passengers.

There is certainly a bit of danger in allow luggage that is completely self-serviced. Having an assisted bag drop makes sense because it allows for an extra level of security between the drop-off point and loading the luggage onto a flight. Self-printed tags, however, make a lot of sense. The passenger and print their tickets, boarding pass, and tags at home or the office. Then they simply need to show up at the desk, check-in, and have the agent verify that they’ve got all of the materials that they need.

Lost Luggage Facts and Statistics

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