To lose less luggage, airlines want you to handle your own bags

Image: AP Photo/Alan Diaz
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If you’re one of those people who insist on dragging all your stuff onboard when you fly, you probably won’t believe it, but the airlines are losing far fewer bags these days.

A report (pdf) released yesterday from SITA, an air transport IT company, shows that over the last 10 years, the number of lost bags per thousand passengers has consistently decreased since 2007, when they hit their peak.  At the same time, more people are flying, with the numbers increasing to 3.54 billion last year from 1.89 billion in 2003.

Incredibly, the industry has gotten better at handling checked luggage, mostly by automating processes that occur between connecting flights.

But they’re also hoping to avoid mishaps by making you check your own bags. More airlines are using self-service kiosks at airports that let people print their own bag tags and present them directly for drop off. In the future, says the SITA report, airlines hope to introduce electronic bag trackers, to let passengers feel more in control of their stuff.

Airlines in Europe have made the most progress when it comes to losing bags, down to 7.8 bags per thousand people from 16.6 in 2007. Asian airlines still outperform their European and North American counterparts.

SITA collects information on mishandled bags from 440 airlines and 2800 domestic and international airports worldwide. Its data on the number of passengers flying each year comes from the International Air Transport Association.