There may not be a more disheartening experience than showing up to your destination, heading down to the baggage claim, and waiting, waiting, waiting … until the crowd thins, the barren carousel whirrs softly to a halt, and your bag is nowhere to be seen. Reality hits: The airline lost your bag. And instead of shuttling to your resort and hitting the pool, you’re off to customer service not knowing if you’ll ever see that new bathing suit again.
The truth is, lost baggage is a relatively rare occurrence. Collectively, airlines “mishandled” 4.68 bags for every 1,000 passengers in November 2019, the most recent month for which data is available. That’s not a lot. But the impact of those lost bags on travelers can be significant. Beyond a missing bathing suit, checked bags can include important medical equipment, materials for a business trip, or other valuable items. (It should be said, we generally advise against packing anything valuable in your checked bag for this exact reason.)
The Worst Airlines for Lost Luggage
All that said, some airlines are better than others at transporting your baggage from point A to point B. UpgradedPoints.com took a look at this BTS data over a year, and ranked airlines based on their lost luggage performance. The full rankings are here (along with rankings for other performance metrics) but there are some interesting highlights:
When you look at the worst airlines for lost luggage relative to their size (the rate at which they lost luggage), four of the five worst performers were smaller regional carriers: Envoy Air, Mesa Airlines, Republic Airways, and PSA Airlines. The other airline in the bottom five was American, and United came in sixth.
The airline with the most mishandled bags overall is Southwest, with a lost luggage figure of over 40,000 during this time period. However, Southwest’s rate of mishandled bags was pretty average due to the fact that Southwest also operates more flights than anyone else on the list.
The airline with the fewest mishandled bags was Allegiant, with Frontier, Hawaiian, Alaska, and Delta rounding up the top five best performers.
Readers, has an airline ever lost your bag? Share your story in the comments below.