AviationBaggages run a higher risk of being lost, damaged or missing on longhaul flights, according to SITA.

As air travel comes back, so are more luggages getting lost

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Cuts across the workforce during the pandemic have affected airlines’ ability to manage the bags in the same way.
Cuts across the workforce during the pandemic have affected airlines’ ability to manage the bags in the same way. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/efired

Air travel is now on the mend as borders reopen — that's the good news. But the bad news? Baggages are missing at a higher incidence again.

Mishandled bags increased by 24% to 4.35 bags per thousand passengers as travellers return to the skies in 2021, according to Baggage IT Insights 2022 by aviation technology provider SITA. The mishandling rate is up from 3.5 checked bags per 1,000 in 2020, although it is still lower than 5.6 per 1,000 in 2019.

As air travel comes back, so are more luggages getting lost

"Airlines, ground handlers and airports have downsized to maintain business viability during the pandemic, which has impacted resources and expertise dedicated to baggage management," SITA said. "Unaddressed, this challenge may see the mishandling rate continue to creep up and become much higher than it was pre-pandemic."

Transfer bags historically account for most mishandled bags. The increase in longhaul flights in 2021 has pushed up the bags delayed at transfer to 41% – a 4% increase from 2020.

Delayed bags accounted for 71% of all mishandled bags in 2021 – a 2% increase from 2020. At the same time, the number of lost and stolen bags rose slightly to 6%, while those that were damaged and pilfered decreased to 23%.

The significant pressure to boost operational efficiency is accelerating digitalisation across the aviation sector, with greater automation and
self-service now a priority.

A large majority of airports and almost all airlines are prioritising touchless bag tagging options that rely on kiosks and passengers' mobile devices, while implementation of unassisted bag drop is increasing, with 90% of airlines and three-quarters of airports planning to make touchless unassisted self-bag drop available by 2024.

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