The air transport industry has cut the rate of mishandled bags by 61.3% globally since 2007, creating US$18 billion in total estimated cost savings, according to air transport IT specialist, SITA. The SITA 2015 Baggage Report released today showed that the rate of mishandled bags in 2014 was 7.3 bags per thousand passengers, down from a peak of 18.88 bags per thousand passengers in 2007. This decline comes despite a significant rise in passenger numbers over the same time period, peaking at 3.3 billion passengers in 2014.
Francesco Violante, CEO, SITA, said: “This improvement in baggage handling over the past seven years is largely a result of strong technology investment and innovation in baggage systems automation and processes. However, rising passenger numbers will continue to place pressure on baggage infrastructure and processes, so the industry cannot afford to become complacent. With IATA forecasting continued passenger growth of around 7% in 2015, all industry partners will need to continue to invest, collaborate and focus on baggage management.”
From 2013 to 2014, global passenger numbers rose 5.5%, and aircraft load factors increased globally to 79.7%. This increased pressure on existing systems nudged the rate of bag mishandling up in 2014 to 7.3 bags per thousand passengers, from its all-time low of 6.96 the previous year. More than 80% of the mishandled bags in 2014 were delayed, with transfers between connecting flights the leading cause of late delivery. In 2014, mishandled transfer bags accounted for 49% of all delayed bags or 11.81 million bags; however, the majority of bags were reunited with passengers within one to two days.
Airlines and airports are continuing to invest in new technology to optimize passenger and baggage processing, including self bag tagging, self bag drop, systems automation and bag ticketing. According to SITA’s 2014 Airport IT Trends Survey, baggage processing and management ranked among airports’ top investment priorities, with investments in self-service processes, such as kiosk and bag-drop technology leading the way. Over the next three years, 59% of airports said they would invest in major self-service programs, as passengers increasingly express a desire to have more control over their journeys, including their baggage.
By 2017, around 69% of airlines said they would provide passengers with real-time updates on the location of their bags, with 66% looking to provide these updates via smartphone apps. In addition, both airlines and airports are looking for new ways to enable passengers to file missing bag reports themselves. Around 18% of airlines already offer passengers the ability to report missing bags via self-service kiosks and 10% via smartphone apps; by 2017, nearly two-thirds of airlines expect to offer these services.
Baggage tracking is set to improve further in coming years as a result of IATA Resolution 753: Baggage Tracking. The resolution, which goes into effect in 2018, requires IATA members to “maintain an accurate inventory of baggage by monitoring the acquisition and delivery of baggage.” For example, BagJourney, SITA’s end-to-end baggage tracking solution for the air transport community, provides a cost-efficient and accurate method of tracking passengers’ bags anywhere along their journey from check-in to the destination airport. It can also enable passengers to access information on the location of their bags at any time when the airline provides this service and passengers subscribe to it.
SITA has led the air transport industry in providing baggage tracking and tracing solutions for the air transport community more than 20 years. Today, more than 200 airports and 500 airlines worldwide use its baggage management solutions. By facilitating communications between airlines and local baggage handling and reconciliation systems, SITA helps ensure that bags reach their correct destination. Its proprietary BagMessage system delivers more than 2.5 billion messages between airline departure control systems and automated baggage systems annually. And more than 2,800 airport locations use WorldTracer®, SITA's system which traces mishandled bags globally.
 A mishandled bag is defined as checked baggage that is delayed, damaged, pilfered, lost or stolen.