Airlines Losing Luggage: The Airlines Most Likely to Lose Your Luggage in 2023

Nothing in life is guaranteed. If you’re flying pre- or post-COVID, there’s a chance you might get to your destination without any of your checked luggage. Airlines losing luggage is nothing new – but it seems to be happening at record pace these days.

Sometimes, it’s not even lost: it can be waiting for you at someone else’s home.

Some airlines are clearly worse than others.

The Airlines Mishandling Luggage at Record Rates

In September 2022, the top 10 US carriers “mishandled” more than 177,300 checked bags, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ monthly Air Travel Consumer Report.

That’s 480 lost, delayed, or damaged pieces of luggage for every 100,000 bags checked. In contrast, more than 1.9 million bags were mishandled by US-based airlines in 2021.

American: The Airline Most Likely to Lose Your Luggage

American, the largest airline in the world, ranked at the top for mishandling luggage, closely followed by economy carrier JetBlue.

On average, American mishandled 6.3 bags per 1,000 in September, according to the report — a major drop compared to the 9.3 bags per 1,000 bags during August, when the summer travel season was near its peak.

The Best and Worst Airlines for Luggage Mishandling

Here is a list of the top 10 US carriers and their mishandling rates per 1,000 bags checked in September 2022 and September 2021:

AirlineBags mishandled per 1,000
in Sept 2022
Bags mishandled per 1,000
in Sept 2021
American6.35.6
Jetblue6.14.8
Alaska5.94.9
Frontier5.13.6
United4.63.8
Southwest4.63.2
Spirit4.44.7
Delta3.15.2
Hawaiian2.72
Allegiant1.71.4
Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ monthly Air Travel Consumer Report, as of September 2022

One of the smallest carriers on the list, the low-cost Allegiant, had the best record — only 1.7 bags per 1,000 mishandled.

What Can You Do to Help Prevent Your Bags from Being Delayed or Lost?

The first thing to do is remove any old tags from your luggage. This will ensure that your bags are not accidentally sent to the wrong destination. You should also make sure that your luggage is properly labeled with your name, address, and contact information.

Another tip is to pack a change of clothes and any essentials in your carry-on bag. This way, if your luggage is delayed or lost, you will have something to wear and your essentials with you.

You can also consider purchasing travel insurance that covers lost or delayed luggage. This will give you peace of mind and provide financial compensation in case something happens to your bags.

Conclusion

While it’s hard to completely prevent your bags from being delayed or lost, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk. By following the tips above, you’ll be better prepared in case your luggage goes missing. And by choosing an airline with a good track record for luggage mishandling, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding this travel nightmare.

What is the definition of mishandled luggage?

Mishandled luggage refers to bags that have been lost, delayed, or damaged during air travel.

Which airlines are most likely to lose or delay my luggage?

As of September 2022, the data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ monthly Air Travel Consumer Report shows that American and JetBlue were the top two airlines for mishandling luggage. However, it’s important to note that mishandling rates can vary depending on the time of year and other factors.

How can I track my lost or delayed luggage?

Most airlines have a system in place for tracking lost or delayed luggage. Contact the airline directly to inquire about the status of your bags and to provide them with your contact and flight information.

Is there a way to avoid having my luggage mishandled?

While there is no guaranteed way to avoid having your luggage mishandled, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk. Removing old tags, properly labeling your luggage with your personal information, packing essentials in your carry-on bag and purchasing travel insurance that covers lost or delayed luggage are some of the ways to reduce the risk of mishandling.

Does travel insurance cover lost or delayed luggage?

Many travel insurance policies include coverage for lost or delayed luggage. Be sure to check your policy or contact your insurance provider to confirm if this type of coverage is included in your policy.

About the author

Robert Lora is a digital nomad and travel enthusiast. When he's not busy planning his next trip, he enjoys exercising, photography, and reading.