Flight Plan

Mishandled baggage rates spike

BL Internet Desk | Updated on: Jun 12, 2022
Man sitting alone and waiting for his flight

Man sitting alone and waiting for his flight

Transfer bags continue to account for most mishandled bags

The global mishandled baggage rate has spiked 24 per cent to 4.35 bags per thousand passengers in 2021 compared with the previous year, according to the SITA Baggage IT Insights 2022, released last week.

The report shows while passenger traffic has evolved since 2020, with most of the 2021 recovery being driven by domestic travel, the resumption of international and long-haul flights is contributing to an increase in mishandling.

Transfer bags continue to account for most mishandled bags. An increase in long-haul flights with connections in 2021 has pushed up the bags delayed at transfer to 41 per cent, which is an increase of 4 points from 2020. The mishandling rate at the global level on international routes is 8.7, yet only 1.85 for domestic routes. Put differently, at a global level, the likelihood of mishandling a bag is about 4.7 times higher on international routes compared to domestic routes.

Delayed bags accounted for 71 per cent of all mishandled bags in 2021 — a 2 points increase from 2020. At the same time, the number of lost and stolen bags increased slightly to 6 per cent, while those damaged and pilfered decreased to 23 per cent.

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

David Lavorel, the CEO, of SITA, said, “The industry now needs to do more with less. As we emerge from the pandemic, our customers' focus remains on safely managing the end-to-end transport of passengers' baggage, but now they must also reduce the total cost and training required. There is significant pressure to increase operational efficiency, which is accelerating digitalisation.”

While 2.28 billion passengers travelled in 2021, the figure is still a long way off the pre-pandemic high of 4.54 billion in 2019. Despite the uptick in mishandled bags from 2020, the 9.9 million bags mishandled in 2021 represents a 77 per cent reduction from the 46.9 million mishandled in 2007. IATA predicts that air travel will not return to pre-crisis levels until 2024.

In 2021 investment in self-service initiatives continued to increase. A large majority of airports and almost all airlines are prioritising touchless bag tagging options that rely on kiosks and passengers' mobile devices. Implementation of unassisted bag drop is increasing, with 90 per cent of airlines and three-quarters of airports planning to make touchless unassisted self-bag drop available by 2024.

Published on June 12, 2022
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