Lost baggage: where millions of bags disappear?

Last updated on July 9, 2019

Most airlines start using the latest technology for the first time, making travelling customers’ luggage safe nowadays. But statistics show that passengers still have to say goodbye to millions of suitcases every year.

In 2018, using airline services, customers travelled with € 4.65 billion. checked baggage, 24.8 million of them were lost during the flight. Compared to 2007, the situation is much better, with airlines worldwide losing 46.9 million. passenger luggage. Mainly unexpected baggage loss occur in Europe. In fact, the number of passengers during this period has doubled.

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According to the Association of European Airlines (AEA), 85% of baggage are returned to their owners within 48 hours. This period has been reduced to 36 hours in recent years.

Why my baggage was lost?

There might be quite many reasons why your baggage was lost:

  • They just go to the other airports when passengers are travelling with connecting flights. The problem becomes even more serious due to delayed flights – when passengers manage to catch the connecting flight, but their luggage not.
  • A lot of baggage is lost when the airport staff or passengers choose the wrong bags because of the rush.
  • It is estimated that only 16% of luggage is lost or delayed when it is not loaded on the airplane, 15% is due to ticket errors, and the remainder because of the confusion of labels or improper loading.

The main tool to control the location of the suitcase is the label where the information of the passenger is written and which is stuck to the luggage handle. According to AEA, only 7% of all lost baggage is never found.

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It is evident that innovative solutions are leading to better performance of airlines and millions of investment in technology to control baggage movements. For example, the US airline Delta has improved luggage labels with radio frequency identification technology (RFID). This means that through the airport system, a suitcase that travels to the airplane can be scanned automatically, always monitored in real-time, and lost suitcases are quickly discovered and recognized.

What to do if your baggage is delayed, damaged or lost?

  • Keep with yourself boarding pass (or any other flight document with the booking reference number) and your checked baggage receipts.
  • It is very important to report about the luggage damage or delay as soon as possible – better before leaving the airport.
  • File a damaged, lost or delayed baggage claim for compensation, or Property Irregularity Report. You might do it online – depending on the airline. Don’t lose the reference number you will receive.
  • In case of damage – show your bags to inspect as they might be repaired or replaced.
  • In case of luggage damage – file a claim of damaged items, which were in your luggage. 
  • In case of lost or delayed baggage, keep your receipts with you if you will buy any necessary items, such as toiletries and underwear.
  • File a delayed or lost baggage compensation claim with the airline when you receive your delayed luggage or airline informs you that they lost your bags.

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