SITA Reports Large Drop in Mishandled Baggage as Airlines Save $460 Million

The SITA 2010 Baggage Report released today reports a drop of 23.8% in the number of air passengers’ bags mishandled last year, resulting in savings of $460 million for the world’s airlines in a year when their overall losses reached $9.4bn.

This is the second consecutive year that the industry has brought down significantly the number of bags mishandled worldwide. Last year there were 2.2bn enplaned passengers and 25.025 million bags mishandled globally, which is down 23.8% (or 7.8 million bags) from 2008, and more than 40% (or 17.4 million bags) down on the 2007 numbers.

SITA, the aviation IT specialist, operates WorldTracer, the industry-standard, fully-automated system for tracing mishandled passenger baggage used by more than 440 airlines and ground-handling companies worldwide.

Francesco Violante, SITA CEO, said: “Effective baggage management plays an important part in the overall passenger experience and this latest drop in mishandled baggage rates is welcome news to passengers and airlines alike.

“Some of the decline can be attributed to fewer passengers traveling last year but the 2.9% decline in passenger numbers is still far smaller than the 23.8% decline in mishandled baggage. Improvements in baggage handling systems and passengers checking in fewer bags to avoid extra fees have also contributed to the overall decline.”

When do bags go missing?

  • During aircraft transfers — 52%
  • Failed to load — 16%
  • Ticketing error / bag switch / security / other — 13%
  • Airport / customs / weather / space-weight restriction — 6%
  • Loading / offloading error — 7%
  • Arrival station mishandling — 3%
  • Tagging error — 3%

While the vast majority of mishandled bags are restored to their owners within 48 hours or less, just 3.4% of all 25.025 million mishandled bags go either unclaimed or, in rare instances, are actually stolen. Normally, after up to six months, unclaimed bags are salvaged, donated or destroyed, depending on government oversight. The single most important thing that passengers can do to avoid their bag being mishandled is to leave sufficient time between connecting flights to ensure their bag is transferred correctly and on-time.

IATA’s baggage improvement program (BIP) launched in 2008, proposes solutions that aim to cut baggage mishandling in half by 2012, generating annual savings to the industry of $1bn to $1.9bn, depending on the number of issues each BIP participant decides to address.

SITA’s baggage management services use highly redundant IP-based global links to direct, track and trace passenger baggage throughout the journey — from check-in to final destination. This saves time and money for the more than 100 airports and 400 airlines worldwide which already use the solution. SITA is also pioneering the use of RFID technology for tracking and tracing baggage.

SITA surveys consistently show increasing passenger willingness to use self-service technology for checking in baggage either at the airport or off-site, leading SITA to develop check-in kiosks with a greater range of functionality including bag tag printing. The new WorldTracer Kiosk enables passengers to skip service queues by generating a unique claims ID number which then allows the passenger to remain informed of the status of their mishandled baggage, either through a dedicated website or a call centre.

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