Want your luggage to arrive with you? Don't transfer flights
Airline trips during which passengers change planes pose by far and away the biggest risk to their luggage, with mishandling during such transfers costing carriers $1.31 billion in 2011, an industry study shows.
While the number of bags delayed, lost, damaged, pilfered or stolen has halved since 2007, the improvement has been less marked for transfer flights, which now account for 53 per cent of all incidents, according to the Baggage Report 2012 released today by airline-technology provider SITA.
Luggage most often goes astray when passengers move between aircraft, especially when operated by different carriers, and improvements in other areas mean transfer-related incidents may account for 60 per cent of the total by 2020, the report says.
"Transfer bags are the No. 1 pain point," SITA baggage specialist Nick Gates said in an interview. "You can always run from one plane to the next if you need to, but your bag can't." Airports and airlines need to do more to identify the causes of glitches as transfers become more commonplace, he said.
Some 25.8 million bags, about nine in every thousand, were mishandled last year, or 20 per cent fewer than in 2010, even as the passenger total rose, SITA says. Of those, 640,000, or 2.5 percent, were lost or stolen, a 45 per cent improvement.