Luggage: Baggage worker says ‘hundreds’ of bags go missing for this simple reason

It’s every traveller’s nightmare – you arrive at your destination but your bag did not make the journey. Though it might seem like a worst-case scenario, 24.8 million bags were lost or delayed in 2018 alone, according to the latest baggage mishandling report from SITA.


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While there are many reasons why this can handle, ranging from baggage handler mistakes to incorrect tagging, one anonymous airline worker has revealed a simple reason why he believes “hundreds of bags go missing” each year.

Posting to a Reddit forum dedicated to airport worker secrets, he explained: “I work for a company that delivers the luggage the airlines lose, so not really for airlines per se, but I can tell you these things: Airlines lose way more luggage than you realise. Seriously.

“Whenever there’s a delay, or a cancellation, or bad weather, whatever, we end up with hundreds (yes, hundreds) of bags that we need to deliver just for the area we cater to.

“Bags that are lost most often are duffel bags and awkwardly shaped or extremely heavy bags.

“If your bag doesn’t fit conveniently into the Tetris-style arrangement the airline employees have going on wherever they put the bags, you’re probably going to have to wait to get it.”

However, despite his comment, SITA insists that the amount of lost luggage is down compared with 10 years ago.

Its latest baggage mishandling report states: “Since 2007, passenger numbers have soared 76percent to reach 4.36 billion in 2018.

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“Despite the increased strain this places on existing air transport infrastructure, baggage mishandling has been significantly reduced, thanks to investments in smart technology, automation and new processes.”

The report adds that total mishandled bags each year have plummeted

47 percent from 46.9 million in 2007 to 24.8 million in 2018.

SITA list the main reason for lost or delayed luggage as transfer mishandling.

Other reasons include ticketing errors; security errors; loading issues; arrival mishandling; airport, customer, weather or space-weight restrictions; and failure to load.


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However, a baggage handler recently explained that there are some ways travellers can help airport staff ensure their bags always go in the right direction.

In a world where digital rules, the paper bag tags printed at check-in can seem dated, but they are vital in ensuring your bag heads to the right destination.

An adhesive label, known as the automated baggage tag (ABT), includes the destination of your luggage.

Mirroring the information included on the ABT is the stub, which is placed on the bag to help identify it if the luggage tag gets lost.

It is vital you are aware of what is printed on your tag and keep a hold of your stub.

The counterpart ticket could be the difference between luggage being returned or being lost forever.

Nicky Kelvin, Director of Content for The Points Guy UK said: “On the rare occasions that I do travel with large luggage, I closely examine both the claim tags and the bag tags themselves.

“And you always should, too.”

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