Last year, more than 29 million pieces of luggage were delayed, damaged, or lost at the world’s airports. The 2011 Air Transport Industry (ATI) Baggage Report found an average of 80,657 pieces of luggage were globally mishandled in 2010 – an 18 percent increase over 2009 numbers.
Some of the mishandling in 2010 may well be due to the travel problems that resulted from a number of natural disasters, including the eruption of an Icelandic volcano and the resulting ash clouds that grounded planes and stranded many travelers. Unfortunately, some of the mishandling is simply endemic to the travel industry.
In fact, we tracked down a few interesting facts about lost luggage:
- 51% of mishandled luggage is due to transfers – that’s when you change plans in Atlanta, but your bags continue on or get on the wrong plane
- 14% of mishandled luggage simply fails to get loaded – that’s when you get on the plane, but your bag stays tucked in a corner in the baggage handling area
- 1.2 bags are mishandled for every 100 travelers
Where does lost luggage go?
The Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama is considered one of that state’s largest tourist attractions. This is where unclaimed luggage and the items inside are auctioned off. Their website offers a peek inside the bag to know what real people purchased and how much they paid for unclaimed items. According to the staff at the Unclaimed Baggage Center, some of the more unusual items they have found include: a live rattlesnake, Egyptian artifacts, and a full set of armor (wonder if the owner had to pay overweight fees for that bag?).
What can travelers do?
It’s important for travelers to understand that the airlines provide only limited compensation for delayed baggage and they can take as many days as they like to locate your bag. When you need the items in your bag for a meeting, a special event, or simply enjoy your vacation, the airline compensation is not likely to be helpful.
This is where baggage delay coverage with your travel insurance plan comes in handy.