If you think about it, considering the number of bags transported by airlines offering domestic nonstop passenger flights, it’s amazing more luggage isn’t lost or damaged in transit each year. That’s small consolation, however, to a traveler with lost or damaged luggage.
To avoid the possibility that their luggage is lost or damaged, some travelers simply rely on carry-on bags. If you do need to check bags, the good news is you can use the information in this new report to lessen the chances of your luggage being lost or damaged by an airline.
Each year, the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics compiles a report that tracks the number of bags that were mishandled while they were in the airline’s possession for domestic nonstop passenger flights. “Mishandled” is actually a broad category that includes checked bags that were “lost, damaged, delayed, and pilfered.”
The 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report notes how many bags were handled by airlines over a 12-month period, as well as how many were mishandled. It even breaks the numbers down to include the number of bags mishandled by an airline per 1,000 bags.
So, let’s jump right into it. Here are the top five U.S. airlines most likely to lose your luggage:
5. Mesa Airlines
5.93 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
Mesa Airlines was founded in 1982 as a single plane shuttle to make daily round-trips between Farmington and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Today, the airline operates flights for American Airlines, United Airlines, and DHL Express, flying planes branded as American Eagle, United Express, and DHL. It offers passenger service to 129 cities in 39 states, Washington, D.C., the Bahamas, and Mexico, as well as cargo service out of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Out of 619,525 bags handled by Mesa Airlines over the 12-month period reported, the airline mishandled 3,676 bags, or 5.93 bags out of 1,000, according to the 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report.
4. Delta Airlines
5.95 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
Delta, which is headquartered in Atlanta, is the second-largest airline in the U.S., offering 185.8 million seats for sale in 2021, according to Simple Flying. The airline has nearly 5,000 flights every day, providing service to more than 265 destinations on six continents.
Delta handled 5,705,942 bags during the 12-month period. The 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report notes that of that number, 33,967 bags, or 5.95 per 1,000 bags, were mishandled.
3. Alaska Airlines
6.07 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
Alaska Airlines works with regional partners to serve more than 120 destinations across the U.S., as well as locations in Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica. The airline, which is based in Seattle, announced last year that it will soon begin offering daily nonstop flights from Seattle-Tacoma to Miami, which means Alaska Airlines will serve 100 destinations with nonstop flights.
Of the 1,430,197 bags handled by Alaska Airlines during the 12-month period reported, 8,682 were mishandled, the 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report notes. That means 6.07 per 1,000 bags were mishandled.
2. Envoy Air
7.71 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
Originally founded as American Eagle Airlines, Envoy Air is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group. Headquartered in Irving, Texas, the airline offers regional flight service for American through its hubs in Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles. It offers approximately 1,000 daily flights to more than 150 destinations.
Over the 12-month period reported, Envoy handled 829,856 bags and mishandled 6,401 of them. That means the airline mishandled 7.71 per 1,000 bags, according to the 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report
1. American Airlines
7.94 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
American Airlines, which was founded in 1930, is the largest U.S. airline. That’s because, in 2021, it offered 216.6 million seats for sale, Simple Flying reports. The airline, with its regional partner American Eagle, offers 6,700 flights each day to 350 destinations in 50 countries.
American is also the U.S. airline most likely to mishandle your luggage, according to the 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report. Over the 12-month period studied, American mishandled 7.94 bags out of every 1,000. While the airline handled a total of 5,417,841 bags, 43,035 of them were mishandled.
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