There is absolutely nothing worse.
You’ve finally arrived at your destination after a hellaciously-long travel day, including rushing to get to the airport, waiting in uncomfortable seats, a delay or two, sitting next to a fat guy who smells like Doritos for seven hours, another wait in rigid plastic seats during a layover, yet another flight, where a baby pukes on your and/or a different fat guy sneezes in your face, and, finally, a nauseatingly bumpy landing.
But all of that is in the past now, and you’re super excited to be in your travel destination or back home. All you want now is to grab your bags, get to your hotel/home ASAP, take a long hot shower and drink a beer.
However, we have one slight problem.
You’re lined up with everyone else at the baggage carousel but your luggage isn’t coming out. You watch as the other passengers on your flight collect their bags and leave, smiling and happy out the airport’s exit to freedom.
But you wait, and wait…and wait some more…until there are no more bags on the carousel…and no more people waiting.
Uh oh. It looks like the airline lost your bags – the nightmare travel scenario.
Maybe they’ll find your bag and deliver it to your hotel that same day or the next morning, or, maybe they’ll never locate it, and the valuable contents of your luggage are gone forever, only to be compensated by a nominal voucher.
If you’ve traveled long enough, this has definitely happened to you.
Or, has it? Is the perception of lost bags way worse than the factual reality, sort of like the comforting statistics on airline safety and crashes?
Let’s put the fear, frustration, and stress of lost bags aside and take a look at the actual data:
In 2017 (the most recent numbers on file), the major airlines lost only 6 bags out of every 1,000. That’s not 6%, but .06% if you’re keeping score at home.
To put that in context, let’s say that there are approximately 150 people on each flight. And that they check a total of 200 bags. (Super rough guestimates.)
That means about 1.2 bags would be lost on each of those typical flights.
That’s not terrible, actually – unless you’re the one (point-two) person who is left standing at the baggage carousel like your finance just been left at the altar on your wedding day.
But, the good news is that airlines are getting better and more efficient with delivering your bags safely, in large part thanks to improved technology and systems.
2017’s numbers are better than the rate of lost bags in 2016 by a full 12%. That’s a pretty incredible improvement over just one year.
In fact, airlines are 70% less likely to lose your bag than just ten years ago.
The incentive to reunite passengers with their belongings is not just a function of good customer service, as it costs airlines big money to compensate people for their mishandled suitcases. Last year, airlines shelled out about $2.1 billion for lost bags!
Then again, U.S. airlines along earned $4.2 billion in checked baggage fees!