Friday, March 03, 2006

The Missing Bag

Many statitistic are tracked about airline travel, and one of the more closely watched are the lost luggage numbers.  A couple weeks ago, USA Today reported that 2004 was a banner year for lost bags, with the airlines losing an average of 10,000 bags a day.

While there are lots of reasons that bags go astray, at sometime or another all airlines occasionally lose, or misplace, a bag.  It seems, however, that some airlines do it just a little more often than others.  US Airways had the highest lost rate, and Hawaiian Airlines the best, in calculations based on lost bags per person transported.

As I browsed the list to see where my airline landed, I started thinking about the last time that I had lost a bag.  That's when I realized that with all the thousands and thousands of miles that I've logged I have never had a bag go missing.  In talking with other people, no one that I talked with had had a lost bag either.

So, I figured it's time for another poll:  Have you personally had a bag lost by an airline?


Via Today in the Sky







Anonymous said...

Hi FlyGirl,
One of the most harrowing days of my life was the day I landed in Salt Lake City airport but my bag did not. I had thought I would be able to carry the bag on, but the folks at Delta made me check it at the gate. They said it was too big, even though it fit the FAA size requirements. The bag contained a beautiful, rare and highly valuable vintage Lanvin Paris sweater that had belonged to my grandmother. It's my favorite sweater of all time. It fits me like a glove and makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn even on my worst days. I never would have packed it if I'd known the airline would separate me from my luggage.
Thankfully, the bag turned up in Seattle and was sent to me the next day. I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't been able to get that sweater back.


Gary said...

I hate checking bags but sometimes I have to. And then the airlines lose them. There's no meaningful difference between the airlines in how frequently they lose my bags. But the big difference is in how they deal with me after losing my bag.

In the past 12 months I've had bags lost by American, Alaska, and Northwest.

American lost my bag after a non-stop MIA-DCA flight! And the toothless woman taking claims at DCA refused to speak directly to me.

Alaska on the other hand sent my SEA-boung bag to RNO (somehow the same bag made it without incident to PPT, BOB, AKL, SYD, and MEL on TN and QF without incident) but they proactively called me on the status of the bag.. gave me the direct # to the baggage office in SEA.. and delivered the bag same night. Northwest did well, too.

"omis" said...

Air France lost my bag after I volunteered my seat (one a real ticket, mind you) on a CDG-AMS flight. I had to fly KLM-LAX the next day, and my bag arrived two days after I did.

Jumpseating on jetBlue once they just didn't put my bag on the plane. It came on the next flight.

Astroprof said...

I haven't really lost a bag, but I've had a couple go on unscheduled tours of the country without me. Eastern Airlines (showing my age) delivered it to me later that same day after it turned up at the next stop. American once sent a bag all around the country. When they got it back to my city, they wanted me to go to the airport to pick it up.

I would have thought that with computerized baggage tracking, matching bags to passengers, etc, that far fewer bags should be loss than years ago.

Fly Girl said...

Anonymous: Yikes! Having to check a precious item (no matter what that is) can cause a great deal of anxiety. I'm surprised that Delta didn't give you an opportunity to remove the sweater and bring it on with you.

Gary: Sounds like your bags have more frequent flyer miles than you do! But you hit the nail on the head when you say that it happens to all carriers, but what matters then is how it's handled. Glad you had at least one (Alaska Airlines) good retrieval experience.

Omis: When I'm working first class and am in charge of closing the boarding door, I always double check to make sure that a jumpseaters bag has gotten on. We've gotta take care of our own.

Astroprof: I think the computerized programs help track bags to passengers to a certain extent. However, the human error factor still comes into play. If something is entered into the computer wrong it makes tracking even more difficult.

Anonymous said...

I've never had bags lost on international flights. When I was doing losts of business travel in the US for a few years, predominantly on United, my bag got lost about 5 times. It was always on my return leg (usually to SJC). I'd just give them my name and address and the bag would be delivered to my house the same or next day (without charge). I'd have been even happier giving them my details before taking the flight and not bothering to pick up the bag at all :-)

About half those times were my "fault". There are three Bay Area airports next to each other - SJC, SFO and OAK. Often I would arrive at the airport early, or be at a hub and ask to be changed to whichever flight left next to one of those 3. The bag may not have kept up.

Fly Girl said...

Anonymous: I would think with positive bag match, which is supposed to be in effect on international flights, that there wouldn't be lost bags. You've got a great idea for the return flights! Instead of checking your bags, just dump them in the "lost bag" pile, and we'll deliver them to your house. . . in a few days. Much easier than having to claim them yourself, and then drag them all over the airport, load them in your car, etc.

Paul said...

Yep I lost a bag ... I left Sydney, the temperature was 32C. I was wearing jeans and a tshirt. I arrived in Edmonton, Canada and it was -28, and no bag with warm clothes. Not fun. Took 3 days to arrive, but they reimbursed me clothing expenses which was nice.

Fly Girl said...


At least you got some clothing reimbursement, though.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, flew CO EWR-SEA. Bag not on carousel on arrival. Five or so phone calls later, the bag was located still in EWR, having fallen off a belt and was lying underneath some equipment or so I was told. I guess I have to give them credit for sending somebody out there to look for it or it still might be there.

Anonymous said...

I haven't lost a bag, but my bag did get torn up! I happened to look out the window while we were waiting to deplane and saw my bag, with a rip at the seam going down the conveyor belt. My underants were flapping in the wind through the tear!!! Yikes!