Learning that your luggage has been delayed, lost, damaged or stolen can cause major headaches, and a new study finds the problem worsened from 2021 to 2022.
After more than a decade of declining rates, the incidence of mishandled bags shot up by 75% last year as airlines and airports grappled with a surge in passengers. This spotlights the need to further digitize and automate bag processing, according to SITA’s Baggage IT Insights 2023 report. Geneva-based SITA is an IT provider for the air transport industry, including airlines, airports, aircraft and governments.
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“After a decade where the mishandling rate more than halved between 2007 and 2021, it is disheartening to see this rate climbing again,” SITA CEO David Lavorel said. “As an industry, we need to work hard to ensure passengers are once again confident to check in their bags.”
Digitalizing baggage operations will minimize costs and enhance the overall passenger experience, according to Lavorel. He added that SITA is committed to working with the industry to ensure passengers are “once again confident to check in their baggage.”
The rate of mishandled luggage rose from 4.35 bags per 1,000 passengers in 2021 to 7.60 bags per 1,000 passengers in 2022. Meanwhile, the number of passengers climbed 50.2% to 3.42 billion.
Delayed bags accounted for 80% of all mishandled bags last year, up 9% from the previous year. Lost and stolen bags increased to 7% while damaged and pilfered bags decreased to 13%. Many of these mishandling incidents occur when a suitcase is being transferred from one plane to another, according to SITA.
SITA called last year’s rise in mishandlings “a temporary aberration.” The report attributed the mishandling problem to a post-COVID shortage of skilled staff, a resurgence in international and long-haul travel and airport congestion.
SITA works with airlines and airports to help solve “key pain points in the baggage journey” through smart automation, tracking and digital platforms, according to Lavorel.
This includes investing in real-time baggage status information. Currently, 57% of airlines provide their staff with mobile access to real-time baggage status information, and that figure is expected to increase to 84% by 2025. Also, while 25% of airlines now offer real-time baggage status information directly to passengers, 67% plan to do it by 2025, the study found.
SITA said its WorldTracer Auto Reflight system automatically identifies bags that are not likely to make their planned connecting flight and re-books them on the next possible flight using the existing bag tag – all while keeping the passenger informed. SITA estimates that automating transfer operations could save the industry up to $30 million per year.
SITA partnered with travel identity company Zamna in January to automate travelers’ journeys through airports and across international borders. Zamna was a PhocusWire Hot 25 Startup for 2021.
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