Lost Luggage Rate Hits All-Time Low

Airlines’ lost luggage rate dropped to the lowest level ever recorded last year, a whopping 10.5 percent decrease from 2015, according to a report released today.

SITA, one of the world’s leading air transport IT and communications specialists, revealed in SITA Baggage Report 2016 that worldwide, there were 6.5 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers last year. This was less than half the rate in 2003, despite an 85 percent rise in the number of passengers. Since 2007, the number of mishandled bags has declined by 50 percent, saving an estimated $22 billion.

The improvement reflects the airline industry’s recent efforts to boost baggage handling. A resolution created by International Air Transport Association (IATA Resolution 753), to be implemented in June 2018, will track each bag throughout its journey.

“Over the next three years bag tracking will be in the spotlight as airlines ready themselves to implement IATA’s Resolution 753,” said Francesco Violante, CEO of SITA. “This increase in visibility will provide more control and drive further improvements in bag handling.

“It also means that passengers will be able track their bag, just like a parcel, which will reduce anxiety and allow them to take fast action if flights are disrupted and their bags are delayed.”

How bags are tagged for their journey is also evolving. The report showed that around 40 percent of airlines and airports now supply self-bag-tag printing at kiosks, and more than one-third are expected to do so by 2018. Nearly one-third of passengers expect to use bag-drop—either a staffed station or self-service—this year.

During the past year, there has been significant progress across the industry in developing permanent electronic tags that allow passengers to update flight information by using a mobile phone app. The electronic tags offer traveler independence and can reduce waiting times.  Home-printed bag tags—a lower-cost option being used by several airlines—offer passengers similar benefits.

Despite the improvements, Violante notes that lost luggage still cost the industry $2.3 billion last year.

“While this is a 3.75 percent reduction from 2014, it is clear that this must remain an area of focus for the industry,” he says. “Passenger experience is paramount, and improving baggage handling will deliver improvements for passengers, along with cost savings. The technology is available to support increased tracking and improved tracing, and SITA is working across the air transport community to deliver efficiencies.”

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