Lost Luggage on Airlines Has Exploded by 30% This Year

Lost Luggage on Airlines Has Exploded by 30% This Year
Photo: Dental Pro Content, Shutterstock

Travel this summer has been hectic. We’ve seen flights being delayed for hours or just plain cancelled, airlines and airports have reduced the number of flights because of packed airports and planes, and to add to it, there’s now a greater chance your luggage will be mishandled or lost.

Spanish insurer MapfreSA reported that the number of travellers that reported stranded luggage this summer jumped 30% from 2019. As the travel demand increases, airlines are finding it harder to maintain everyone’s luggage. This type of increase in mishandled bags was also noted in the U.S Department of Transportation’s June 2022 Air Travel Consumer Report.

The report found that around 220,000 bags were mishandled in ten different airlines (flying domestically) in April. ‘Mishandled bags’ include checked bags that are “lost, damaged, delayed, and pilfered, as reported by or on behalf of the passenger” and were in the airline’s custody. This number may seem small compared to the 40 million bags that were enplaned. And enplaned here represent “the total number of checked bags enplaned, including wheelchairs and scooters that were placed into the aircraft cargo.” But for lets say a woman who has her wedding dress inside her luggage, or just travelling to an area without most of your belongings — it’s a nightmare.

For major airlines, this is the amount of bags that were mishandled in April 2022 according to Air Travel Consumer Report:

United Airlines had around 30,000 bags mishandled out of 5.8 million enplaned. Delta Airlines saw 45,000 out of 8.3 million. JetBlue around 10,000 bags out of 1.49 million. And American Airlines had around 65,000 bags mishandled out of 9 million enplaned.

A total of 220,000 bags were mishandled among the 10 airlines outlined in the Air Travel Consumer Report. That’s around two times more than what was reported in 2021, but so is the number of bags enplaned. I’d imagine that’s partly due to covid-19 restrictions on travel that year.

But airlines have attempted to help with this problem of lost bags. Delta Airlines last week deployed an aircraft to specifically carry back 1,000 bags from the U.K to the U.S. Insurer MapfreSA also told Bloomberg that the majority of missing bags are found and returned to people, so worry about your bags but maybe don’t worry too much.