U.S. Airlines Are Losing Less Luggage

Traveling on a plane is a less-than-enjoyable experience for many, but at least the odds of your bag ending up where you do are getting better.

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Amid the myriad of consumer complaints about air travel, there appears to be at least one thing the industry is getting better at: major U.S. carriers are losing less luggage.

Collectively, the 12 major domestic carriers in September had a rate of mishandled bags of 1.99 per 1,000 passengers, down from a rate of 2.33 per 1,000 bags for the year-ago month, according to data compiled monthly by the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

For the first nine months of 2017, U.S. carriers mishandled bags at a rate of 2.50 per 1,000 passengers, down from a rate of 2.75 for the year-ago period, the agency said.

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In September, Delta Air Lines performed the best, or had the lowest rate of mishandled bags, at 1.32 per 1,000 passengers, followed by JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines, with rates of 1.53 and 1.54, respectively. ExpressJet Airlines ranked at the bottom, mishandling luggage at a rate of 2.55 per 1,000 passengers.

For the January-through September period, Spirit Airlines and JetBlue Airways placed at the top, with Spirit mishandling bags at a rate of 1.62 per 1,000 passengers and JetBlue at a rate of 1.67. ExpressJet landed at the bottom, with a rate of 4.02 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, followed by SkyWest Airlines at 3.19.

Overall, U.S. airlines mishandled 2.7 bags per 1,000 customers in 2016, improving from the previous record of 3.09 from 2012. Compared to a decade ago, U.S. airlines are mishandling 60 percent fewer bags while taking on slightly more passengers.