Jenny Loucas scrolls through photos of her 40th birthday celebrations in Greece, knowing that much of the clothes and jewellery she had worn in the pictures are lost for good.
For while she had enjoyed a wonderful holiday, her luggage then disappeared after she had checked it in for the flight home to London Gatwick.
"I had such a lovely time, but came back to a low," she says. "I look back at some of the pictures and think, 'oh no, that was in the bag too'."
Two months later and Easyjet has confirmed that her luggage has been permanently lost. "We are very sorry for the loss of Ms Loucas's bag, and we understand the frustration this will have caused," an Easyjet spokeswoman told the BBC.
As newspaper headlines and social media posts around the world have shown in recent months, Ms Loucas's case is far from unique, with some commentators calling it "the summer of lost luggage".
The situation has been blamed on staff shortages both at the carriers, the airport security staff that have to scan all the checked-in luggage, and the ground handling firms that are typically employed to get all these suitcases and bags onto the planes and then back to the carousels.
With many of these teams seeing redundancies during the pandemic, they now can't cope with the pent-up demand to go abroad on holiday again. It has led to images of hundreds of missing suitcases piled up in warehouses.
And one insurance firm, Spain's Mapfre, said that the number of passengers reporting missing luggage this summer was 30% higher than in 2019, the last year of normal travel before the pandemic.
While no global estimates are yet available for the volume of delayed or lost luggage so far this year, data for 2019 shows that the problem has always existed.
That year 19 million bags and suitcases were late arriving around the world, and 1.3 million were never seen again, according to an annual report by SITA, a provider of baggage management software. Add luggage being damaged or pilfered, and 5.6 items per 1,000 passengers were "mishandled".
To try to keep tabs on their items of luggage, a growing number of passengers are turning to technology.
Apple has reportedly seen a rise in sales of its AirTag tracking device. The AirTag works by sending out a secure Bluetooth signal that can be detected by nearby devices in the Find My network. These devices send the AirTag's location to the iCloud, allowing the user to go to the Find My app and see it on a map.
In other words, you can see exactly where your missing suitcase is, via your smartphone or computer. In an article last month by Bloomberg, one man who travelled from California to Scotland for a wedding was able to see his luggage go to Toronto, Canada, and then Detroit.
Other travellers are attaching trackers that use GPS to their luggage.
Ms Loucas says she hasn't used tracking tags before but she "definitely would do so" from now on. "Anything to stop my luggage being lost again," she says.
Yet while such tagging devices may give a passenger peace of mind, travel industry expert Eric Leopold says they don't solve the core issue - stopping the backlogs that prevent bags from catching the same flights as their owners.
"Tracking the bags is helpful when 99% arrive on time and 1% are mishandled, but when thousands of bags are stuck in London or elsewhere, the tags are not helping move the piles of bags," says Mr Leopold, who is the founder of air travel consultancy Threedot.
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SeeTrue is one company that hopes to help airports and airlines get luggage onto planes more efficiently in the first place. The Israeli firm makes software that can do the security scans on check-in luggage much faster than human security staff.
"SeeTrue uses artificial intelligence and computer vision algorithms to discover prohibited items in bags," says chief executive Assaf Frenkel. "It connects to the existing X-ray and CT scanners, and detects in real-time, faster and more accurately than most human eyes, always on, and never getting tired or distracted.
"As a result, baggage is delivered on time to the planes and not left behind."
For UK tech firm AirPortr, its approach to tackling the problem is to remove the need for passengers to have to queue up at the airport to check in their luggage before their flight.
Instead passengers can use its app and website to arrange for their luggage to be taken door-to-door.
Currently available for British Airways and Swiss International Air Lines flights between London and Geneva, an AirPortr worker will pick up a person's suitcase from their home. This driver will then take it to the departure airport's luggage area in the bowels of the terminal building for check-in, rather than going into the departure lounge.
Then at the destination airport, one of AirPortr's transportation partners will pick up the suitcases and deliver them to the person's destination address.
Fees start from around £40 for one item of luggage, one way, if you don't mind your suitcase being picked up the day before you fly. But prices can be more than double that if you want your luggage collected during a specific one-hour slot on the day. The cost also rises the further you are from the airport.
Although the service doesn't add any flight emissions as bags travel on the same plane as the passenger, it does obviously mean an extra car or van journey to the airport,
AirPortr's chief executive Randel Darby set up the firm in 2013, saying he was so frustrated that baggage was "travelling in the same way we have done for almost a century of commercial aviation".
His aim is to expand the service around the world, and rather than just aiming it at business travellers, he hopes for it to ultimately become a "utility" service used by all types of holidaymakers.
Mr Darby even believes that airlines and airport operators will start to subsidise people's use of AirPortr, because it is "more cost effective than handling passengers checking in their luggage on-airport".
Yet despite such technical solutions, passengers also want airlines to employ a few more customer care workers.
Bill Doody, a British expat who lives in the French city of Toulouse, is one such person after German airline Lufthansa mislaid four of his family's suitcases for almost a month when they travelled to New York via Frankfurt.
"I've called Lufthansa non-stop, but most of the numbers were dead," he says. "Lufthansa turned this into a trip to remember for all the wrong reasons.
"We ended up washing our underwear in the hotel sink," adds Mr Doody, who has since flown to Australia for work with a GPS tracker attached to every item of luggage.
A Lufthansa spokesman said: "We cannot research and comment [on] specific lost baggage cases."
Back in London, Ms Loucas is now trying to get compensation. "I've lost all my stuff. There was irreplaceable jewellery in there. I must have lost between £1,500 and £2,000 [worth]. Easyjet is asking for receipts, but I don't have receipts for everything."
- Air travel
- Coronavirus pandemic
- While there's no definitive way to stop your luggage from getting lost, there are some steps you can take to give your bags a better chance. Make sure your bag is tagged properly. ...
- Make clear where it's going and who owns it. ...
- Avoid tight layovers. ...
- Make your bag stand out.
- Contact the airline. ...
- Request delivery to your home or accommodation. ...
- Request checked baggage fee reimbursement. ...
- Submit a claim to the airline after 24 hours. ...
- Keep receipts of incidental expenses. ...
- Check your credit card benefits.
Using Bluetooth, AirTags send out a signal that is picked up with the help of nearby Apple devices anywhere in the world. Using those devices, the tag's location information can be sent to iCloud and alert you on your personal device.Which airline has the most lost luggage? ›
In 2021, 0.51% of bags were mishandled, DoT data shows, with Envoy Air and American Airlines the most likely to mishandle luggage and Allegiant Air and Hawaiian Airlines the least.Why do airlines lose your luggage? ›
The likelihood of mishandling increases the more baggage is transferred, making trips with multiple stops especially vulnerable to luggage complications. Other human errors, such as incorrect tagging or loading mistakes, can also result in lost luggage. Bags may be tagged for the wrong destination at check-in.Is lost luggage still a problem? ›
A recent report from the US Department of Transportation shows an increase in the number of "mishandled" bags. (Any baggage that is lost, damaged, delayed or pilfered is considered mishandled.) In May 2021, 0.38 out of 100 bags enplaned were mishandled. That figure went up to 0.56 per 100 bags enplaned in May 2022.How common is lost luggage? ›
That's roughly seven bags out of every 1,000 handled that are earmarked as lost baggage. Based on the same data, American Airlines lost luggage complaints are the most common, at nine bags per 1,000 in 2022.What are the chances of getting lost luggage back? ›
If your bag doesn't make it to your destination with you, airlines are usually able to locate it fairly quickly and get it on the next flight there. About 97% of lost luggage is returned to its owner within 2 days, and less than 5% of all lost luggage is actually lost, aka never returned.Should I put an AirTag in my luggage? ›
The good news for air travelers is that AirTags work great inside your luggage. With regular location updates, you will be able to get a good sense of the location of your luggage while at the airport.Are AirTags worth it for luggage? ›
The Apple AirTag is the perfect tool to bring on your next trip. Its simplicity, functionality and size will ensure you never lose track of your bags while on the go. The peace of mind that your bags have made it on your trip is worth the reasonable price tag.
Long live the battery.
AirTag is designed to keep going more than a year on a standard battery you can easily replace. And your iPhone lets you know when itʼs time to pop in a new one.
According to the Department of Transportation's Air Travel Consumer Reports, seven out of every 1,000 bags handled were marked as lost baggage in the first quarter of 2022. According to The Guardian, lost luggage was up 24% last year.Who pays lost luggage? ›
You have the legal right to claim compensation from the airline if your checked-in luggage is delayed, lost or damaged. You only have the right to claim for a problem with cabin baggage if it's the airline's fault.Can you sue airline for lost luggage? ›
According to the Department of Transportation, airlines are liable for up to $3,800 for lost, damaged or delayed bags. International flights fall under different rules; the maximum baggage liability is about $1,780. (Airlines can pay you more than that, but they're not required to by law.)What can I take on a plane in checked luggage 2022? ›
Flight Requirements 2022. TSA carry on size: Solid food items (not liquids or gels) can be transported in either your carry-on or checked bags. Liquid or gel food items larger than 3.4 oz are not allowed in carry on Size bags and should be placed in your checked bags if possible.How do I protect my checked luggage? ›
Lewis says that he always recommends that customers use luggage locks to protect the contents of their bags but that less than half of them do. If you're checking your suitcase with an airline, be sure to use a lock labeled “TSA compatible” so that agents can open it with a master key if it's selected for scrutiny.Should I put a tracker in my luggage? ›
If you're traveling this summer, add a luggage tracker to your packing list. According to the Department of Transportation's most recent Air Travel Consumer Report, in April 2022 alone nearly 220,000 bags were mishandled—damaged, delayed, stolen, or lost—a whopping 134% increase from the same period last year.Why is everyones luggage getting lost? ›
It is suffering from a shortage of baggage handlers after it outsourced about 1,700 jobs during the pandemic in a decision later found to have been unlawful.What happens if an airline loses my case? ›
If your bag is ultimately declared lost, the airline will be liable to pay out for the luggage under the Montreal Convention, which gives guidance on the amount to be paid – although it's a set amount, it can vary a little by airline.Where does lost luggage end up? ›
Once the airline has paid out the claim to the person missing his luggage, they sell it to the Unclaimed Baggage Center, “the only store in America that buys and sells Unclaimed Baggage from airlines.” The mega-store a popular stop for second-hand shoppers.
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, mishandled baggage complaints are currently 200% above pre-pandemic levels, with nearly 220,000 bags listed as "mishandled" in April 2022.How often do airlines lost checked bags? ›
It can take hours on hold and dozens of calls to reach a representative on a support line while, according to a recent report by flight compensation firm Claim Compass, 5% of the 28 million bags that are mishandled annually are irretrievably lost. That number has been increasing by over 2% each year.How often does luggage get stolen? ›
The industry's mishandling rate is 5.69 bags per 1,000 passengers. For North America, it's 2.85 bags per 1,000 passengers which is way better than Europe where it's 7.29.What are the chances of losing your luggage? ›
It can take hours on hold and dozens of calls to reach a representative on a support line while, according to a recent report by flight compensation firm Claim Compass, 5% of the 28 million bags that are mishandled annually are irretrievably lost. That number has been increasing by over 2% each year.How common is it to lose luggage? ›
That's roughly seven bags out of every 1,000 handled that are earmarked as lost baggage. Based on the same data, American Airlines lost luggage complaints are the most common, at nine bags per 1,000 in 2022.How do you store luggage on a plane? ›
Label your bags correctly with your name and address and remove tags and labels left over from previous flights. Keep all bags including handbags locked at all times, and be vigilant. Do not carry packages or items with unidentified content on behalf of anyone. Do not accept any packets from unknown persons.What are the chances of getting lost luggage back? ›
Airlines rarely get bags back to passengers in 48 hours. Most bags that fall into the delayed baggage category make it back to the passenger in 3-7 days. Figure out what you need for a few days and immediately buy those items.How likely is it to lose your luggage 2022? ›
According to the Department of Transportation's Air Travel Consumer Reports, seven out of every 1,000 bags handled were marked as lost baggage in the first quarter of 2022. According to The Guardian, lost luggage was up 24% last year.Do airlines usually find lost luggage? ›
If your bag doesn't make it to your destination with you, airlines are usually able to locate it fairly quickly and get it on the next flight there. About 97% of lost luggage is returned to its owner within 2 days, and less than 5% of all lost luggage is actually lost, aka never returned.Can I sue an airline for lost luggage? ›
According to the Department of Transportation, airlines are liable for up to $3,800 for lost, damaged or delayed bags. International flights fall under different rules; the maximum baggage liability is about $1,780. (Airlines can pay you more than that, but they're not required to by law.)
The industry's mishandling rate is 5.69 bags per 1,000 passengers. For North America, it's 2.85 bags per 1,000 passengers which is way better than Europe where it's 7.29.What happens if your luggage is late? ›
For delayed luggage, airlines have to compensate passengers for "reasonable, verifiable, and actual incidental expenses that they may incur while their bags are delayed," within maximum liability limits, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.Why is it necessary to keep the luggage secure? ›
Luggage Being Tampered With Or Stolen
Unattended luggage is more likely to be stolen and unlocked bags are more vulnerable to tampering. Keeping a close eye on your luggage and locking it is the best way to minimize the risk of your luggage being stolen or tampered with.