Tuesday, March 21, 2006

You and your bags: separate itineraries

If you have the impression that the airlines lose a lot of passengers’ bags, you’re right. How right you are might surprise you, however:

An estimated 30 million bags were temporarily lost by airlines in 2005, and 200,000 of those bags were never reunited with their owners, according to an industry report released Monday.

The report by SITA Inc., a company that provides technology solutions for the air transport industry, also noted that "the problem of mishandled baggage is worsening on both sides of the Atlantic."

The 30 million misdirected bags comprised only 1 percent of the 3 billion bags processed last year by airports, up from 0.7 percent in 2004, said SITA, which is promoting technology it says would reduce the problem.

Last year, mishandled luggage cost world airlines $2.5 billion, compared with $1.6 billion in 2004, SITA said, in a report released before Tuesday's airline and airport passenger services exposition in Paris. The jump partly reflects improvements in data collection, but also the increasing costs resulting from inadequate baggage management.

When I worked in the airline industry years ago, our goal was a .3% (that’s point-three percent) mishandle rate and we generally hit that. In this age of increased security, it’s a wonder that it would even be that high. I can’t help but wonder how having that $2.5 billion back in their pockets would change the tune the airline industry is singing. Perhaps they need to spend some more time and funds on proper training and procedural review. Sure seems like a better investment than plunking the bucks down for delivery services to get the bags back to their customers.