Flight Plan

With help from technology, check-in baggage now less errant

Prince Mathews Thomas | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on May 17, 2016


Incidence of lost or misplaced baggage has halved since 2007, benefitting passengers

Losing or misplacing a bag leaves one with a bad taste at the end of a journey. It robs you of the excitement, as this writer once experienced, when one is getting back home to family with goodies. Now the gifts will have to wait, sometimes till the next morning or even more.

But here is some good news. Incidence of lost or misplaced baggage has come down in the last decade.

The improvement in managing the logistics has been quite dramatic. According to SITA’s World Tracer data for 2015, the total number of mishandled bags reached a high of 46.9 million in 2007. But in the next eight years, the number has plummeted by half to 23.1 million bags in 2015. On an annual basis, the number of mishandled bags has come down by five per cent from 2014.

“Taking into account the increase in passenger numbers in 2015, this means the mishandling rate has dropped to 6.53 bags per thousand passengers— a 10.5 per cent decrease from the previous year.

“This represents an all-time low in the mishandling rate since SITA began reporting baggage handling trends in 2003,” says the report. SITA, based in Geneva, provides IT and telecommunication service to the aviation industry. While this means that fewer passengers are now complaining about lost bags, this increased efficiency is also benefitting the airlines.

Even though mishandled bags cost the aviation industry $2.3 billion in 2015, it was down 3.75 per cent from 2014. The bag mishandling cost per passenger has dropped 9.7 per cent to $0.65 – another all-time low, says the report. In 2007, the lost baggage had dealt a $4.2-billion-damage to the industry.

Domestic story

Despite the global improvement, it is difficult to say the same for the domestic aviation industry in India. According to the data released by regulator DGCA, missed baggage continues to be among the top three complaints of fliers in India. At the same time, in the absence of exact numbers, it is unclear if there has been an increase or decrease in these .

Airports in India are doing their bit to reduce this inconvenience for passengers. The airports are introducing a new baggage system, which gives real-time information on the status of passengers’ baggage and helps reducing mishandling. Airport Authority of India started off the exercise from airports in Chennai and Kolkata, last year.

Airlines and airports will continue to depend on technology to make baggage handling error-proof. This is partly being fuelled by International Air Transport Association’s Resolution 753, which asks airlines to keep track of every item of baggage from start to finish.

Delta Airlines, one of the leading operators in the US, recently introduced a new technology that enables fliers to track their bags through an app in their smartphones.

Instead of the existing barcode and hand scanning procedure, the airlines will now use Radio Frequency Identification technology.

Apart from passengers, the technology will help the ground handling crew in identifying the baggage and its destination correctly, enabling them load it onto the right aircraft.

Published on May 17, 2016
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