This airline has the absolute worst record of mishandling luggage

This airline has the absolute worst record of mishandling luggage

For the past three years, one US airline has been consistently more likely to mishandle passengers’ luggage than any other.

Between 2021 and 2024, American Airlines had the most reported instances of mishandled luggage of any US airline, according to analysis of Department of Transportation Air Travel Consumer Report data by MyBaggage.com.

American Airlines handled more than 200 million pieces of luggage in the past three years. Of those, more than 1.7 million were mishandled, averaging 8.71 per 1,000 cases.

The data also showed that American Airlines ranked highest for mishandled luggage every year for the past decade.

The airline acknowledged the issue and said it has been working on improvements.

American Airlines said the company saw a 25 per cent year-over-year improvement in mishandled baggage in February, and had its lowest mishandled baggage report since 2017, in an email to SFGATE.

American Airlines ranked number one for mishandled luggage for the past three years (stock image) (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
American Airlines ranked number one for mishandled luggage for the past three years (stock image) (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“If we get [travelers] there and the bag doesn’t make it, [there’s a] huge drop in their perception of the service or the value they got from buying a ticket on American,” American Airlines COO David Seymour told the Wall Street Journal.

The company has introduced a priority bag system that places luggage traveling shorter distances near the front of planes for faster removal at destinations. Airline bagtags tell handlers how long the baggage is meant to stay on the plane for quick reference, according to the company.

Just as customers count on us to get them to their destinations on time, they expect us to deliver their bags on time. American has been improving the way we care for our customers’ baggage, particularly the way we move bags at our hubs and transfer bags between connecting flights,” an American Airlines spokesperson told The Independent. “These efforts have paid off.”

According to the company, it recorded a 15 per cent year-over-year improvement in our mishandled baggage rate in 2023, then this March the company recorded a 13 per cent year-over-year improvement. In April, American recorded its lowest mishandled baggage rate since 2018, according to the spokesperson.

While American improved in its baggage handling in recent months, it also raised the prices for checked bags earlier this year.

American raised the price for most checked bags to $40 for customers who do not prepay online. If paid online during check-in, the price is $35 - a 33 per cent increase from its previous $30 fee for both online and in-person bag checking, according to CNN.

American Airlines said that it hadn't raised its baggage fees since 2018, and that it was decreasing the cost to bring oversized or heavy luggage on board.