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17/03/2009 – Did Your Checked Baggage Arrive? Was It The Luck Of The Irish?
Since today is Saint Patrick’s Day I figure I’ll start off my post with a phrase, with mixed historical origins…
Did your baggage get lost? “It must be the luck of the Irish” (using the term origin that the Irish have no luck)
Did you get your lost baggage back? “It must be the luck of the Irish” (using the term origin that the Irish overcome adversity and have wonderful luck)
It is not often I have the chance to use the term “The Luck of The Irish” with both the positive and negative connotations in a single thought. But today is St. Patrick’s Day and the stars aligned for me to write this entry (it must be because I usually wear a green baseball hat, from a baseball team situated in a historically Irish city, and my hat has a shamrock on the back of it)
Back on January 11th 2008 I discussed an option for reducing the chances of your baggage getting lost, as well as a suggestion for reducing your delay time in having your lost baggage recovered in this post: 11/01/08 – Don’t Let The Airlines Lose Your Bags ………Or If They Do, Get Reunited Quicker!
Today the London based Air Transport Users Council released a study that showed more than 40,000,000 pieces of luggage were lost in transit during 2007, with more than 1,000,000 pieces of baggage being permanently lost during that same year.
The upside for travellers is that airline statistics show that roughly 1,300,000 less pieces of luggage were lost or misrouted during 2008. In the United States reports of lost of damaged baggage dropped by nearly one-third during 2008. American Airlines alone reported a 26% decrease in baggage claims during 2008.
Why has there been such a significant decrease in lost and damaged baggage claims during 2008? This can be summed up with two simple answers
1) Airlines began charging checked baggage fees for all bags checked on their flights
2) Passenger traffic decreased on a global level throughout 2008.
With passengers forced to pay baggage fees, overall passengers scaled back they packing and chose to use carry-on baggage. Those who checked their baggage often limited themselves to a single bag rather than two bags to reduce costs. If fewer bags are checked, fewer bags can be lost or damaged.
Looking at the decrease in passenger traffic for 2008, such as Chicago O’Hare losing 8.9% of its passenger traffic, falling from a 2007 passenger total of 76,177,855 to a 2008 passenger total of 69,353,654, there were less passengers flying, to check less bags so naturally the claims for lost and damaged bags decreased (in addition to the fees those flying faced for checking bags which reduced the overall number of checked pieces of baggage).
While the lost, delayed and damaged baggage numbers appear to be shockingly high, you need to factor in some other statistics to really give these numbers some perspective
The top 10 airports in the world alone moved approximately 641,894,810 passengers in 2008. Each day in the United States alone there are approximately 30,000 domestic flights traveling from airport to airport.
In perspective 40,000,000 delayed bags, factoring in airport delays, misconnected flights, inter-lined baggage between airlines, tight connection baggage transfers, and other logistics scenarios, the number of bags that make their connections is astonishingly good percentage wise.
…as for completely lost bags, that are never seen again? I often wonder how many of these bags were not properly labeled.
Remember to place your name and contact information on multiple places on the exterior of your bag. Never rely on the cardboard, fold over, baggage ID tag the airlines have at their counters. In addition to placing your info on multiple places outside your bag, you should also place your info in at least two places that can be easily spotted on the interior of your bag as well. Always make sure you have some unique clear identifying mark on the exterior of your bag. These identifying marks make it easier for a bag to be spotted based on your description and then returned to you.
Do not pack valuables in your checked baggage. Do not pack electronics in your checked baggage. The exception to this for photographers is our lights and sometimes long lenses.. If I could wheel a loaded bag on board with a full set of lights I would, but there is no way I am getting my kit into a bag with a maximum dimension of 45-linear inches.
Just remember to take your critical items on board with you and know that statistically you’re baggage will be waiting for you, fully intact, spinning on the baggage carousel when you arrive at your destination.