According to the 2023 Baggage IT Insights report by aviation IT provider SITA, the number of misplaced bags reached a total of 26 million in 2022 due to a shortage of skilled staff, congestion at airports, and the resumption of international travel. The report states that the number of bags misplaced almost doubled last year, from 4.35 to 7.6 bags per 1,000 travelers compared to 2021. This is also higher than the pre-pandemic rate of 5.6 bags per 1,000 travelers in 2019.
The increase in mishandled bags occurred despite the decrease in air traffic from 4.5 billion passengers in 2019 to 3.42 billion in 2022. However, the latter figure is a 50% increase from 2021, and the industry was caught off guard by the swift comeback of air travel. Coupled with the thousands of staff laid off during the pandemic, the surge in traffic resulted in increased disruptions and baggage mountains. David Lavorel, SITA’s CEO, said that larger airports with high volumes of transfer bags were the most severely impacted, which affected smaller airports as they had to handle the repatriation of these bags.
Delayed bags accounted for 80% of all mishandled bags last year, while lost and stolen bags increased to 7%, and damaged and pilfered bags decreased to 13%. Europe had the worst record, with 15.7 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, a threefold increase from the previous year. North America had 6.35 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, while Asia had three per 1,000.
SITA used data from its luggage tracking software, which is utilized by 500 customers at 2,800 airports worldwide, for the study. Mr. Lavorel expressed disappointment that the mishandling rate had increased again after more than halving between 2007 and 2021. He added that the industry needs to work hard to regain passengers’ confidence in checking in their bags.
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