Security Awareness Tips: Flyers Beware of Lost Baggage this Season


Posted on Thursday, December 14, 2017

Fending off mid-winter blues, travellers should take extra precautions with their checked baggage – December, January and February are typically the worst months for lost bags.

To avoid problems, arrive at the airport early enough to let your bag get to the plane, and print a copy of your itinerary from the airline’s website and stick it inside, just in case all the tags get ripped off during transit.

Globally, the baggage-mishandling rate has fallen 61 per cent from its peak in 2007, according to SITA, an aviation communications and technology provider. That has saved the industry $18-billion (U.S.).

The vast majority of bags – 80 percent – aren’t lost but de-layed, according to SITA. And it takes about a day and a half to reunite passengers with their bags. Another 14 per cent are damaged or have their contents reported stolen. And nearly 6 per cent of bags are lost or stolen completely.

December and January tend to be the worst months because there are a lot of infrequent travellers checking multiple bags, and a few snowstorms can add to delays and suitcases that miss connections.

The overall improvements to baggage handling came after airline carriers spent millions of dollars to up-grade their systems.

Tug drivers now get real-time updates of gate changes so they can change their path and ensure that bags make their connection. Scanners allow bags to be tracked throughout the system, preventing a suitcase bound for Chicago from being loaded onto a plane to Detroit. Gate agents have printers to help tag bags that are checked at the last minute because of full overhead bins. And, over all, fewer bags are being checked because of bag fees. Airlines are also starting to empower passengers – or at least keep them bet-ter informed.

Delta was the first airline to allow flyers to track their own checked luggage, first on the airline’s website in 2011 and then on its mobile app in 2012. Sitting on a plane ready for takeoff and knowing that your suitcase isn’t in the hold below might be frustrating.

But airlines say they would rather have passengers know it then and talk immediately to a baggage representative, once on the ground, instead of standing at the carousel waiting for a suitcase that isn’t there.