Lost Luggage Crisis Hits Record High: 26 Million Bags Lost in 2022

Bye bye baggage.

Lost Luggage Crisis Hits Record High: 26 Million Bags Lost in 2022

There’s nothing that will get your trip off to a bad start as discovering that your airline has lost your bags along the way. Sadly, newly released data shows that not only is the missing luggage crisis getting worse, but it’s set to hit a ten-year high…

After a week of disgusting seats and cross-cabin urination, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the world must have run out of bar air travel news for the foreseeable future. Alas, the never-ending scourge of lost luggage has reared its ugly end head once again to remind us all that things can always get worse…

And we’re not just talking about a minor decline: a recent report shows that the airline industry is losing more bags than it has at any point in the last decade, raising very valid questions about why airline customer service should be allowed to decline so quickly and consistently while shareholder profits continue to soar.

The findings, shared in the 2023 Baggage Insights report by aviation tech provider SITA, reveal an alarming surge in mishandled luggage, with a staggering 26 million bags being misplaced in 2022. Multiple factors have been blamed including staff shortages, the resumption of international travel, and increased congestion at airports during peak periods.

Comparing last year’s statistics to 2021, the number of lost bags nearly doubled, jumping from 4.35 to 7.6 bags per 1,000 travellers. Not only is this up from last year, but it’s also a marked increase from the pre-pandemic era, which saw 5.6 bags per 1,000 travellers lost in 2019.

WATCH: If you’re taking the safer carry-on option, here’s how to do it right.

CEO of SITA David Lavorel has emphasised the need for diligence in the industry as a means of restoring passenger confidence:

“After a decade where the mishandling rate more than halved between 2007 and 2021, it is disheartening to see this rate climbing again. As an industry, we need to work hard to ensure passengers are once again confident to check in their bags.”

David Lavorel

Even though the number of people travelling by air is still down compared to the pre-pandemic halcyon days — 3.2 billion versus 4.5 billion respectively — the apparently sudden resurgence in traveller numbers somehow caught the industry off guard. Combined with slashed staff numbers thanks to COVID layoffs, its caused unforeseen bottlenecks for airports, airlines, and ground handlers.

Out of all mishandled bags, 80% were delayed, lost or stolen bags accounted for 7%, and damaged bags actually decreased to a lucky 13%. Europe emerged as the worst performer, with an alarming 15.7 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, a threefold increase from the previous year. North America reported 6.35, while Asia recorded only three.

All in all, it seems like airlines are taking the saying “travel light” a bit too literally, leaving passengers with nothing but frustration. But hey, who needs a holiday when you can have a thrilling adventure tracking down your missing suitcase?