Baggage Report 2010

For the second consecutive year, the number of mishandled bags fell worldwide

Baggage Report 2010

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Mishandled bags were down 24% globally in 2009, saving the air transport industry (ATI) US$ 460 million compared to 2008.

In 2009, the ATI reported just over 25 million mishandled bags globally. This is down 23.8% (7.8 million bags) from 2008, and down more than 40% (17.4 million bags) from 2007.

The improvement saved the industry US$ 460 million year on year. Three main factors contributed:

  • Fewer people travelling
  • Fewer people checking in bags in attempt to avoid fees
  • Improvements in baggage handling systems

Nonetheless, lost and mishandled baggage cost the ATI around US$ 2.5 billion in 2009. This is a sum the industry can't afford to lose in the current economic climate. The International Air Transport Agency (IATA) estimated total airline losses of US$ 9.4 billion in 2009, after losses of US$ 16.8 billion in 2008.

When do bags go missing?

  • Transfer baggage mishandling (52%)
  • Failure to load (16%)
  • Passenger bag switch / security / ticketing error (13%)
  • Loading / offloading (7%)
  • Airport / customs / weather / space - weight restriction (6%)
  • Arrival station mishandling (3%)
  • Tagging errors (3%)

Baggage trends

Baggage self-service is coming to a kiosk near you. Over the past year, adoption of self-service facilities has grown by 20% (2009 SITA / ATW Passenger Self-Service Survey). Among passengers who do not use self-service check-in options, baggage remains the number one obstacle - 30% cite baggage check-in as the main reason for avoiding self-service options; over 75% have never printed a bag tag from a kiosk.

  • 56.9% don't see the value of self-service check-in if they have to go to an agent desk to drop their bags
  • 36.7% don't think it's possible to use self-service check-in when they have bags to check
  • 28.1% find it "too complicated" to use self-service check-in when they have bags to check
  • 17% believe using self-service check-in increased the risks of not receiving their bags when they arrive at their destination

Despite the current obstacles, self-service is well positioned for future growth. Over 50% of respondents to last year's Passenger Self-Service Survey said they wanted more self-service options. 60% said they would either frequently or intermittently use remote check-in and baggage drop-off services in the future. 48% said they would use kiosks to report lost baggage.

This is good news for the ATI, which plans to introduce a number of self-service baggage options in the next two years.

Lightening the load, while boosting ancillary revenue

While the industry continues to encourage passengers to travel with fewere bags, many European and North American carriers continue to benefit from ancillary revenues related to baggage charges. According to AirlineForecasts, airlines collected US$ 2.47 billion in baggage fees globally in the 12-month period ending September 2009.

Checked baggage is now the major ancillary revenue associated with aircraft operations, generating much more revenue than pre-reserved seating and early boarding (but still substantially less than frequent flyer programmes).

There's no doubt such charges have impacted passenger behaviour. The proportion of passengers checking baggage has dropped from 82% in 2007 and 2008 to 76% in 2009 (Passenger Self-Service Survey).

Mishandled baggage vs. checked baggage fees is a balancing act for airlines. Some airlines have foregone charging for checked bags, while others offer refunds and/or frequent flyer miles to passengers whose bags don't arrive at the carousel in a timely manner.

Going mobile

With 88% of all travellers and 93% of business travellers carrying a mobile phone, it's no surprise that mobile services are poised to become a channel of choice for passenger services, complementing the existing self-service options, such as self-service kiosks to report missing bags.

Some airlines and airports communicate via SMS messages to passengers whose bags have not arrived with their flight, and continue to provide regular SMS updates until their bags arrive on the passengers' doorstep.

This is good news, particularly for airlines, who have shown a strong ambition to increase the adoption and availability of mobile services for passengers.

IATA Baggage Improvement Programme

IATA's Baggage Improvement Programme (BIP) proposes solutions that aim to cut baggage mishandling in half by 2012. This would generate savings to the ATI of US$ 1 billion to US$ 1.9 billion, depending on the number of issues each BIP participant decides to address.

After eight pilots in 2008, the BIP team launched the programme in 2009 with 25 airport diagnostic visits. The airports represent approximately 28% of all mishandling files. To date, BIP solutions have addressed an average of 90% of the mishandling causes identified at these airports, proving the programme's methodology and its solutions toolkit.

The Baggage Report 2010 contains more information on BIP, including a case study from Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2 with the support of Air France.

About the Baggage Report

Since 2005, SITA has produced an annual baggage report, which is designed to offer the ATI stakeholoders the latest facts, figures and trends related to global baggage processing and management. In preparing this report, SITA works in close collaboration with industry partners - including IATA - to ensure its facts, figures and analysis are as complete and accurate as possible. With help from these essential insights, ATI stakeholders can work together to improve baggage management around the world - generating savings for the industry, while improving the overall passenger experience.

Related downloads

Nick Gates talks baggage

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Nick Gates, Portfolio Director Baggage, discusses the drop in mishandled bags and industry trends we can look for in the future.

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