Airlines lost 30 million pieces of luggage in 2005
If you've ever been frustrated after an airline lost your luggage, you're in the good company of millions of others.
An estimated 30 million bags were temporarily lost by airlines in 2005, and 200,000 of those bags were never reunited with their owners, according to an industry report released on Monday.
The report by SITA Inc, a company providing technology solutions for the air transport industry, also noted that "the problem of mishandled baggage is worsening on both sides of the Atlantic."
The 30 million misdirected bags comprised only 1 per cent of the 3 billion bags processed last year by airports, up from 0.7 per cent in 2004, said SITA, which is promoting technology it says would reduce the problem.
Last year, mishandled luggage cost world airlines $2.5 billion, compared with $1.6 billion in 2004, SITA said. The jump partly reflects improvements in data collection, but also the increasing costs resulting from inadequate baggage management.
Greater airport congestion, tight connection times, increased transfers among airlines and stricter security are all contributing to more late or missing bags, said SITA, a Geneva-based company that is owned by the airlines, airports and other international air transport industry companies.
But the biggest problem is the growing number of passengers, whose additional bags cause delays and complicate handling, it said. "Growth is welcome but it has to be better managed if airlines and airports want to improve the passenger experience by eliminating delays from the system," said Francesco Violante, SITA's managing director.
Mishandling during baggage transfer was the largest single cause last year of a bag failing to arrive with its owner at the intended destination. Other bags were temporarily lost because of airport personnel failing to properly load baggage, ticketing errors, problems with loading or unloading, and weight or size restrictions. Only 3 per cent of all misdirection of baggage occurred due to tagging errors.
On average, bags are returned to their owners a little over 31 hours — or 1.3 days — after they are reported missing, SITA said.
There is no industry standard for permanently lost bags, and items in some countries are later sold at auction.
30 million bags were temporarily lost by airlines in 2005
200,000 of these were lost permanently
3 billion bags were processed last year by airports
$2.5 billion is the cost incurred by airlines because of mishandled luggage
31 hours is the average time taken by airlines to return bags to their owners