Why Airlines Lose Your Bags

Carriers are trying to lose fewer checked bags, but it's an uphill battle
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2007 5:26 PM CST
Guido Feruglio hauls luggage into the terminal at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007 in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – On the busiest single travel day of the year, the New York Times explores why the odds of your bags arriving safely at the carousel of your destination are still declining, despite costly efforts at many airlines to improve performance. So far this year, airlines have  misplaced one bag out of every 138, compared to one in 155 last year.  One culprit in lost baggage is apparently dirty barcode printer heads for the automatic sorting systems.

But the biggest factor is 6 years of airline downsizing that has cut the work force and time between connecting flights. "There's a lot of opportunity for failure," says American's baggage operations manager.