Christmas season highest time for lost luggage; we rank the airlines
Christmas season highest time for lost luggage; we rank the airlines
Last updated: Dec 3, 2019 · 3 min read

Christmas season highest time for lost luggage; we rank the airlines

You’d better watch out. With Christmas travel so popular, it’s not surprising that December is the top month for airlines to lose or mishandle your luggage. So if you’ll be carrying a suitcase filled with gifts on either end of your journey, you might want to book with the airline least likely to lose your bags.

Virgin Atlantic, Alaska Airlines and Spirit Airlines have the best holiday travel track records, based on the past three years of December travel, according to LuggageHero’s 2019 Christmas Season Lost Luggage Report.

At the bottom of the list, you’ll find American Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines and Skywest Airlines. Based on their performance over the past three years, those three airlines are the most likely to lose or mishandle your luggage this December.

Breaking down the findings:

  • From 2016 to 2018, Virgin Atlantic lost or mishandled only 1.86 pieces of luggage per 1,000 during the month of December. Alaska Air followed with 2.34, and Spirit rounded out the top three with 3.03.
  • Surprisingly, the best airline in 2018 alone wasn’t among the top 3 cumulatively. Frontier topped last year’s list, losing 4 pieces out of 1,000.
  • Competing for the worst overall airlines in December from 2016 to 2018 was American Airlines with 5.56 pieces of lost or mishandled luggage out of 1,000. ExpressJet followed with 5.51 and Skywest with 5.03.
  • The worst airline last December was American Airlines, with a mishandle rate of nearly 9 pieces of luggage per 1,000. (American has taken the bottom place for the last three years.)
LuggageHero examined 12 major U.S. carriers for its December holiday season report, culled from the LuggageHero annual report on lost and mishandled luggage. Rankings are based on figures from the Air Travel Consumer Reports published by the U.S. Department of Transportation. (For the results of our previous research on the topic, read our 2019 and 2018 reports.)
Mishandled Luggage December 2019

Are travelers due for a Christmas gift?

Last December, the reported number of lost or mishandled bags rose from the year before, while from 2016 to 2017 the numbers fell. So maybe we’re due for a year of big improvement, which would be a welcome gift under the Christmas tree!

What to do if you have the baggage blues

If you end up being one of the unlucky ones who travel for holiday, here are some things you can do:
  • If your bag doesn’t arrive, or is damaged or tampered with, report it to the airline immediately, preferably while you’re at the airport. Otherwise, call them as soon as possible. Document as much as you can with photos, and save any communication you can.
  • If your bag is damaged, request repair or replacement. Airlines are responsible for repairing or reimbursing a passenger for damaged baggage and/or its contents when the damage occurs while the bag is under the airline’s control, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection division.
  • If you’re flying within the United States, DOT rules state that your baggage is covered up to $3,500 per passenger and around $1,600 internationally. To collect, you need to fill out the necessary forms and have proof of loss.
  • If your bag is lost and you need to replace essential items, the airline should reimburse you for those costs.

About LuggageHero

LuggageHero is a global network of safe, convenient and affordable luggage storage sites in local shops, cafés and hotels. It has stored more than 1.7 million hours of luggage across more than 1,400 drop-off points in Europe and North America. LuggageHero is headquartered in Copenhagen and serves travelers across 37 major cities in Europe and North America, with more to be launched this year. LuggageHero was named one of the Top 25 travel startups to watch in 2019 by PhocusWright and has been recommended by leading media outlets, including the New York Times, Lonely Planet and Fodor’s.

About our methodology

LuggageHero analyzed baggage performance by looking at U.S. Department of Transportation Mishandled Baggage Report figures for December from 2016 through December 2018, published in Air Travel Consumer Report, a monthly product of the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, Aviation Consumer Protection Division. DOT baggage reports come from passenger reports of mishandled baggage, which includes lost, delayed, damaged, or pilfered luggage.