Lost Luggage Report – 853K bags mishandled by US Airlines in 2020
Lost Luggage Report – 853K bags mishandled by US Airlines in 2020
Last updated: Apr 22, 2021 · 5 min read

Over 800,000 bags mishandled in 2020 by US Airlines

Every year, we at LuggageHero create a report showcasing mishandled luggage by the US airlines, and 2020, despite the COVID-19 situation, would be no different. Of course, there was a lot less travel in 2020 than 2019, and that shows in the lost luggage numbers. Compared to the previous year, air traffic has been reduced significantly, and we can see that reflected in the lower number of bags mishandled in 2020 as compared to 2019.

In 2019, a total of 2.8 million bags were mishandled by U.S. airlines. In 2020, only 853k bags were mishandled,  which is almost 2 million less than the previous year. The change started abruptly, when coronavirus pandemic measures went into effect. Specifically, there was almost 19 times less checked baggage in April than in January, reflective of the huge drop in passengers during this period.

In this research, we have collected data from 16 US airlines. The results show that in 2020, they boarded a little more than 200 million bags and handled a bit more than 850,000 incorrectly, which means that the chances of your bag being mishandled in 2020 were only around 0.4%.


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Allegiant Air takes best care of your luggage for a second year in a row, American Airlines overtakes Envoy Air as the worst

For the second year in a row, Allegiant Air takes the lead as the best airline for the safety of your luggage, with only 0.15% of the bags enplaned being mishandled. Allegiant Air is followed by Southwest Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, making them the top three airlines for safe luggage handling. Allegiant Air was founded in 1997 as WestJet Express and it is wholly owned by Allegiant Travel Company, a publicly traded company with 4,000 employees.

In 2019, Envoy Air took the last place for safe luggage handling. However, in 2020 the airline provider was overtaken by American Airlines and now comes in as second-worst. American Airlines and Enjoy Air mishandled, respectively, 0.597% and 0.587% of the baggage they were in charge of last year. American Airlines, together with its regional partners, operates an extensive international and domestic network with almost 6,800 flights per day to almost 350 destinations in more than 50 countries.


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January: The worst month for your bags

January 2020 was the worst month out of the whole year for mishandled luggage. In January, a total of 205,040 bags were mishandled with 46,598 of those bags being mishandled by American Airlines. In 2020, for every 1,000 pieces of luggage on board, 5.49 were mishandled.

September: the safest month for your luggage

In 2020, September was the safest month for your luggage. For every 1,000 bags, only 2.87 were handled incorrectly. September is followed very closely by June and May. In June, for every 1,000 pieces of luggage on board, 2.89 bags were handled incorrectly, and in May, 2.90.

The smaller sample size 

It is important to note that the sample size from 2020 is significantly smaller than 2019. Nonetheless, bags in 2020 were still mishandled, and there are airlines that we can safely say performed better than others.


What happened to US Airlines in 2020?

The Covid-19 pandemic has been brutal for U.S. airlines, and 2020 was a difficult year for many of them. ExpressJet Airlines was one of those particularly affected by the pandemic and stopped its operations in September 2020. Therefore, it is not present in the 2020 report for mishandled luggage as it had been in previous reports.

U.S. carriers’ 2020 net losses likely went over $35 billion, according to analyst estimates provided by FactSet. That includes what’s expected to be Southwest Airlines’ first annual loss in more than four decades.

The negative effects of the pandemic can clearly be seen in the loss of stocks for US Airlines in 2020.  According to CNBC, American Airlines’ share price lost 45%, Delta Air Lines’ stock lost 31%, Southwest stocks went down by 14%, while United Airlines fell 51% over the last 12 months, its biggest drop since 2008.

With canceled flights, compensations, and an overall difficult year for US airlines, The Wall Street Journal ranked the US airlines for their overall performance in 2020, with Southwest Airlines taking first place.

What to do in case you have to deal with the baggage blues

If you end up in a situation of being one of the ‘lucky’ ones, whose luggage is somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle, here is what you can do.

  • If your luggage hasn’t arrived or has been damaged, report it to the airline immediately, preferably while you are still at the airport or call them as soon as possible. Take photos of damaged stuff and save your communication.
  • Fill in a proper report and ask to get a copy of it.
  • If you fly within the United States rules state that your luggage is covered up to $3,500 per passenger. To collect the compensation, you need to fill out necessary forms and proof the loss.
  • If your suitcase has been damaged, request a replacement or repair.
  • If your suitcase has been lost and you need to buy basic items, the airline should refund these expenses.
  • In case you have paid a fee to check the bag, you can ask for a refund of this fee.
  • In case you have used a travel agent, you can ask this agent to assist you.
  • In case you have paid by your credit card and you also have travel insurance, find out if the insurance covers luggage damage or loss.

About LuggageHero

LuggageHero is a network of convenient, safe and affordable luggage storage locations in local shops, cafés, and hotels. We charge $1 per hour and have more than 450 drop-off points in New York City, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, Rome, Montreal, Boston and Copenhagen. And, in case you’re wondering, we have a much better record than the airlines. In January 2020 we reached 2M hours of stored luggage and since starting in 2016, we have not had a single claim for damaged or lost luggage. But fear not, if there is a problem, each bag and its contents is covered up to $2500.


About our methodology

LuggageHero analyzed airlines by luggage performance based on U.S. Department of Transportation figures about Mishandled Baggage in Air Travel Consumer Reports from January 2020 to December 2020 Air Travel Consumer Report, a monthly product of the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, Aviation Consumer Protection Division. From there, we generated pivot tables, compared airlines in regards to mishandled onboarded carries included luggage and compared months in regards to average mishandled luggage per 1,000 passengers. DOT baggage reports come from passenger reports of mishandled baggage, which includes lost, delayed, damaged, or pilfered luggage.

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