Extra Baggage: Airlines lost an estimated 30 million bags in 05

Airlines lose track of only 1% of checked bags, but that amounts to 30 million mishandled bags per year, at a cost to carriers of $2.5 billion, according to an estimate from SITA, an information technology company that has a stake in the issue: It sells technology for tracking baggage.

After bags were tracked, it took an average of 1.3 days to deliver mishandled bags to their owners, according to SITA. About 204,000 bags were lost or stolen.

The Association of European Airlines reported its members averaged 14.1 missing bags per 1,000 passengers in 2005.

In the U.S., the number of bags mishandled on domestic flights rose from an average of 4.2 per 1,000 passengers in 2003 to 4.9 in 2004 and 6.0 in 2005.

The airlines then have to spend money tracking down those bags and returning them to customers.

One possible way to reduce the problem is Radio Frequency Identification tagging and bag reconciliation systems to track baggage at various points throughout their journey. 

A recent survey by SITA, Airports Council International and Airline Business magazine found that RFID tags are being used for baggage handling in just 6% of airports surveyed.

But the survey also identified an expectation that RFID tags will be used in 45% of airports by the end of 2009.

In a recent Web conference by Air Transport World, IATA RFID Project Manager Andrew Price said RFID can improve the read rate from 75% with bar codes to 99% with RFID when applied to bags being  transferred to other flights.

(Bar code readers perform much better with point-to-point flights than connections, Price added.)

The added efficiency could save the industry $768 million a year, he said.

But some airlines are balking because RFID could cost 7 cents per tag or more, and it will take a large order to prove whether even that lower price point is possible.

Price believes the cost will be worth it, and he said airlines need to consider the bigger picture. But he cautioned that RFID would not eliminate mishandled baggage problems.

Ive yet to see RFID pick up a bag and rush it to the next flight, he said.

It would, however, help identify which bags need to be rushed, he added.


From Our Partners

2021 Family Expo
Family Travel Expo
Register Now
Air Astana 1366
Air Astana
Read More
2021 Caesars Webinar
Watch Now

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI