The Truth and The Causes Behind Airline Mishandled Luggage Statisitics

Posted on March 3, 2011. Filed under: Travel |

The Causes and the Truth behind Mishandled Luggage Statistics


Statistics: My research shows that many travelers who search the web about airline luggage are searching for information regarding lost luggage statistics; airport lost luggage statistics and mishandled airline luggage statistics.


Let’s explore the truth about mishandled luggage statistics and who the parties are that feed into the mill of mishandled luggage. The airline employees are the number one cause of mishandled luggage.  Carelessness in handling the luggage and moving the luggage and employee error during the check-in process are the number one reasons bags do not make it to same destination as you do.


The TSA is also responsible for mishandling your luggage due to their own equipment failures or lack of enough baggage screening equipment to process your luggage so the luggage makes it on the same flight you’re on. Staffing can also add to the equation, which slows down the process as well.


Inclement weather is a major cause of luggage mishandling, and after a major weather event in a certain part of the country it is not uncommon to see hundreds if not thousands of bags mishandled and waiting to be processed and reunited with their owners. Keep in mind that the airlines for a long time have trimmed their staffs to the bare minimum to reduce their costs, so it can be a daunting task for the remaining employees to handle the masses of lost luggage, and it can take days or weeks before you are reunited with your lost luggage—if you are lucky enough to see your luggage again.


Do the actual airports’ luggage moving systems cause mishandles? You bet they do. Not as frequently as the airlines do, but at airports in most cities government institutions own the luggage conveyer process and the airlines pay a monthly fee for the use of the system. This is one way that airports and city governments earn revenue at airports.


All of these entities or naturally-occurring variables cause luggage separations from passengers, but the only statistics you will ever find are the statistics reported by the airlines to the DOT (Department of Transportation). Click on this link: then click on the link that states “Air Travel Consumer Report.” You will find all the mishandled airline baggage statistics here, but keep in mind the reports are always two months behind the current date. Also keep in mind that only airlines who carry more than 1% of the total air travel volume in the United States must report their numbers, so this leaves many other niche market carriers who do not need to report their numbers to the DOT.


Not too long ago, JFK Airport in New York had a major luggage conveyer system outage which the airlines could not control. They had no responsibility for the breakdown, but now bear the burden of reuniting your luggage with you at their expense. Check out this YouTube video from a passenger flying out of JFK Airport. His advice to you is important to heed. You may need to turn your volume up on your computer or handheld to hear this video, but it rings true of the pitfalls and the reality of airline mishandled luggage:



Now please allow me to dispel the myths and share my expertise with you as to why mishandled luggage statistics are not a true or accurate measurement of an airline’s baggage-handling performance:


Baggage statistics are broken out by the airline in four categories. These  four categories are lost luggage, damaged luggage, delayed luggage, and pilfered luggage which are claims of property stolen from luggage.


When an airline reports their monthly baggage statistics to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the number they provide is an average of all four of these measurements combined, based on the total number of boarded passengers an airline carries system-wide for that month.  Keep in mind that all DOT baggage reports are available on the DOT website but are two months behind the current month.


Airlines are not required to reveal how many thefts they have in a month or how many bags are lost, stolen or delayed per category. Airlines also determine their percentage of mishandled luggage based on 1000 passengers boarded. For example; the end results are based on the assumption that all 1000 passengers that board an airplane checked a bag. Now if only 500 passengers out of 1000 who board an aircraft actually checked a bag. Then the airlines statistic of 4.5 bags mishandled per 1000 passengers boarded would actually be double. So statistics are not a good measurement of an airlines’ baggage handling performance.


The Empty Carousel will teach you the essentials you must know before you travel and quite possibly end up being one of these reported statistics, not to mention the loss of property, time, and frustration. All of these, as well as significant financial loss, are a very real possibility for today’s air travel consumer.


The Empty Carousel will provide you with answers to these questions and so much more. You will have the information you need to know now, before you travel. If you find that you have become an unfortunate statistic of airline luggage mishandling, TheEmptyCarousel will guide you on how to handle your situation.

Scott T. Mueller

Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage


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