Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Where Does Lost Luggage Go?

Lost luggage is a risk we all take when travelling by air. But how is it possible that so many suitcases become mishandled when simultaneously passengers manage to board the right flights?

Certainly having cheap travel insurance in place when this eventuality occurs provides significant reassurance and easing on personal finances. Having to personally replace the entire content of a large wardrobe neatly stored inside a suitcase is both a galling and completely preventable action.

According to the 2009 SITA Baggage Report 1,800,000 bags are lost, never to be recovered in the period of one year. This incredible figure only serves to make travellers more anxious about the reliability of the security checking and baggage handling system, once passengers have submitted the bulk of their belongings in to the hands of the airport process.

One answer to the question “where does lost luggage go?” presents itself as the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro Alabama, USA. A horrendously garish exponent of schadenfreude at work; the business profits from the innocent misfortune of frustrated travellers parted from their personal belongings.

By analysing the percentage allocations of all lost luggage, some of which is found and returned, we can determine more of the factors involved in mishandled baggage.

  • 49% - Flight connections.
  • 21% - Loading errors.
  • 16% - Tagging or security issues.
  • 8% - Mishandling upon airport arrival.
  • 6% - National or airline restrictions imposed.

Ultimately, these reasons should still keep the baggage within the confines of the airport, and in theory it should only be a matter of time before the luggage is returned to the owner. That is only possible if the passenger has taken the basic step of writing their contact information inside the case.

Which leaves a handful of alternative explanations as to where lost luggage really goes. Theft is a serious concern, especially given the extraordinary security checks supposedly demanded of staff working air-side.

However, it could also be that the luggage in question makes it through highlighted risks of loading, flight connections, security investigations, and it arrives on the baggage carousel with bar code tag intact, only to be stolen by an unscrupulous criminal sharing the same flight.

While travel insurance can help recover the costs involved, it can't reunite travellers with cherished and irreplaceable personal artefacts. The simple act of writing down the flight information, date of travel, and contact information inside a suitcase can decrease the risk of lost luggage should the barcode tag become detached.

Technorati tags; delayed baggage, lost luggage, travel insurance.

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