Lost Luggage Report 2019
Lost Luggage Report 2019
Last updated: Mag 7, 2019 · 5 min read

Delta takes best care of luggage, while Envoy comes in last

To increase your chances for smoother luggage handling, the first thing you can do is choose the most reliable airline.

Delta, Frontier and Spirit Airlines are the least likely to lose or mishandle your luggage, based on recently released figures from the Air Travel Consumer Reports published by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Taking up the bottom spots are Envoy, followed by SkyWest and ExpressJet. LuggageHero examined 12 major U.S. carriers for its annual report on lost and mishandled luggage. (If you want the results of our previous research on the topic, read last year’s report on mishandled luggage here.)

From 2012 through 2018, Delta processed an average of 1.55 reports of lost or mishandled luggage per 1,000 passengers, while Envoy faced a much steeper 6.76 per 1,000 passengers.

During the same time period, the average of all 12 airlines is 2.89 reports per 1,000 passengers. That means fewer than 3 travelers out of 1,000 experienced lost or mishandled luggage. (Though when it’s yours, it always seems worse, doesn’t it?). Not surprisingly, problems peak during the summer months and the holidays.

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Things are looking up, mostly

 

Overall, we’ve seen improvement. From 2012 to 2018, most of the airlines experienced a sharp decrease in luggage reports.

United had the most improvement, with 49 percent fewer complaints. Delta was close behind, with a drop of 47 percent.

American Airlines was the only airline to report an increase in lost or mishandled luggage, with almost 7 percent more complaints now than in 2012.

On average, however, the industry’s baggage-handling skills improved by an impressive 30 percent.

 


In the course of a year? It depends…

 

When we look at the change from 2017 to 2018, using figures from the month of August, one of the busiest travel months, we see a slightly positive trend, but it’s not constant.

Some airlines improved, while others worsened. The most extreme examples? Alaska Airlines improved by 33 percent, while Hawaiian Airlines worsened by 24 percent.

On average, a positive trend held, with an overall improvement of 12 percent.

 


 

Our mostly sunny forecast for 2019

 

Based on our number-crunched predictions from 2017 through this year, Alaska Airlines should see the most improvement with a 35 percent drop in reports. Southwest, on the other hand, is looking to lose more luggage, but only by 4 percent.

On average, the upward trend should continue, with a 19 percent improvement in service in 2019 compared to 2017.

We are seeing signs that airlines overall are learning to deal with high intensity months.

That said, we expect to see around 676,000 filed reports for lost, misdirected or mishandled baggage this summer, when some 270 million passengers will board one of our listed airlines, based on an analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation figures from 2012 through 2018. That comes to 2.5 reports of lost or mishandled baggage per 1,000 passengers from June through September.

During the entirety of 2019, we predict that airlines will lose, misdirect or mishandle 1.7 million pieces of luggage among their 654 million travelers. For the whole of 2019, that comes to 2.7 reports per 1,000 passengers.

And here’s a bit of holiday cheer. The busy travel month of December is looking to improve from past years, with a forecast of 3 reports per 1,000 passengers vs. the actual 3.8 seen in 2012-2018.

 

 

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A little birdie told us

 

We’re sharing something extra this year – a snapshot of how tweeters have treated airlines. We measured the tone of tweets using natural language processing and classified each as neutral, positive or negative.

So far this year, the least-piled-on airline was Delta, while the most punished was Jet Blue, with more than twice the ratio of negative to positive tweets than Delta.  American and United fared nearly as well as Delta.

Looking back from 2008, the results aren’t surprising: over the years Delta has logged fewer and fewer Twitter rants, while JetBlue experienced the opposite.

 


 

What to do if you have the baggage blues

 

If you end up being one of the unlucky ones, 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.
  • Make sure that a proper report is filed and that you get a copy of it.
  • If you’re flying within the United States, DOT rules state that your baggage is covered up to $3,500 per passenger and about $1,600 internationally. To collect, you need to fill out the necessary forms and have proof of loss.
  • If your bag is damaged, request repair or replacement.
  • If your bag is lost and you need to replace essential items, the airline should reimburse you for those costs
  • If you paid a fee to check the bag, ask for a refund of the fee.
  • If you used a travel agent, ask the agent to assist.
  • If you paid by credit card and if you have travel insurance, ask if those agreements cover baggage loss or damage.

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About LuggageHero:

LuggageHero is a network of safe, convenient, and affordable luggage storage sites in local shops, cafés, and hotels. We charge by the hour, and have more than 450 drop-off points in New York City, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, Rome, Montreal, Boston and Copenhagen, with some 25 more sites to open this year. And, in case you’re wondering, we have a much better record than the airlines. Since starting in 2016, we have not had one single claim for damaged or lost luggage. But fear not, if there is a problem, each bag and its contents comes with up to $3,000 of insurance coverage.

LuggageHero Luggage tag

About our methodology

LuggageHero analyzed baggage performance by looking at U.S. Department of Transportation Mishandled Baggage Report figures from 2012 through December 2018, published in Air Travel Consumer Report, a monthly product of the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, Aviation Consumer Protection Division. From there, we calculated which airlines take good care of your baggage and which take less care, and how that’s changed over the years. The forecast is the result of an ETS model fit for every reported airline. DOT baggage reports come from passenger reports of mishandled baggage, which includes lost, delayed, damaged, or pilfered luggage.