American Airlines Is Making Two Major Changes To Keep From Losing Your Bags

At American Airlines, management’s edict is not to spend a dollar more than they need to. So it’s not surprising CEO Robert Isom and Chief Operating Officer David Seymour told employees in an internal meeting last week that they’re not prepared to invest in RFID technology or new electronic bag tags to improve the checked baggage process.

However the airline, which generally mishandles more bags than competitors, is making process improvements so that bags are more likely to make connections – especially at their Dallas – Fort Worth hub.

David Seymour explained during the carrier’s “State of the Airline” employee forum after its earnings call on Thursday (a recording of which was reviewed by View From The Wing) that “with respect to mishandled bags, it’s been a key objective for us to try and get better. It’s not one that we’re known for but we’re making headway there.”

He laid out two initiatives that they have to improve handling for connecting bags,

  1. Get connecting bags off of inbound aircraft first. Here’s Seymour,

    The big issue with us right now and the mishandled bags really comes back with how we manage connecting bags and how we move them in our hubs…helping the bag situation starts in our spokes where we make sure we load the bags to that DFW and Charlotte and our other hubs have a higher opportunity of success by making sure they’re sorted correctly…we’re now getting nearly 90% completion of making sure we’re getting those connecting bags in the first bin that gets offloaded in our hubs..

  2. Get bags from one aircraft to the next more quickly. He offers, “we’re also doing a lot with the bag runners themselves to make sure we have better routes for them” so they can get around the airport more efficiently

These effort should help move bags quickly, so that they’re more likely to make it on tight connections. But it doesn’t help speed up the check-in process, track bags so they aren’t lost, or deliver them to baggage claim faster.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Pure genius. The fact that they are trying this very basic process engineering for the first time in 2022 does not fill me with confidence in AA’s leadership.

  2. As an employee, we’ve been “telling” our “leaders” constantly to go back to “bag sortation” for all bags going into not only DFW, but ORD, CLT, PHX., etc but have consistently been told that “it’s not feasible”!! Yet we did it before the “takeover” and didn’t have that much of an issue.
    This management “team” does not want to do things that work because they will then have to admit “defeat”
    The way the transfer bags are currently run has been a disaster since it was implemented, many transfer drivers are being reassigned in the middle of cutting one flight to literally drop the current flight and go cut another flight!! Sometimes the drivers are reassigned several times on just one trip!!
    And you know why the bag numbers are in the tank and have been for a while!!
    Simply pitiful!!!

  3. Perhaps I’m lucky. In all of my flying, I’ve never had a bag lost.

    But, I will say that AA baggage delivery time to the carousel at JFK needs some work. If the carousel even starts moving within 30 minutes, you’re lucky. At every other location, AA has been fine. At LAX, on average, it’s remarkably quick. At JFK, there’s something wrong.

  4. I think the 2 changes more likely are as follows:

    They have a woman named Helen who will try to track your bag with her bloodhound if you give her a used sock.

    They’ve hired a retiree named Bob to watch the conveyor belt system at all times to make sure it’s functioning at peak efficiency.

  5. Completely underwhelming.

    Wish me luck – checking a bag tomorrow DTW-DFW-COS

  6. We had an issue about 6 weeks ago with flights from TPA-DFW-SEA. We had 2 checked bags and I could see on the AA app before we left that one had been loaded and and the other hadn’t. I even mentioned it to a gate agent who boarded just before takeoff and he dismissed my concern. When we arrived at DFW I could see that my bag was off loaded and transferred to our connecting flight and my wife’s was sent to CLT. The agents in the Admirals Club were helpful in determining that my wife’s bag would go from CLT to SEA. Unfortunately it arrived about 2 hours after we did. The baggage agents in SEA did sent it out to us the next day.

    Shouldn’t AA’s baggage employees know how many bags have been checked for each flight and can’t that number be compared with the actual number of bags loaded? In our case the CLT flight was boarding at an adjacent gate, so a baggage handler must have just put it in the wrong pile. Still this is frustrating when it happens and it should be easier and cheaper to monitor rather than pay contractors to deliver mishandled bags.

  7. They are supposed to be sorting bags now – at least with priority tags. We know how well they do that.

    On another front, you mentioned they were going to not collect noise cancelling headphones. When is that supposed to start?

    (Last night I had to request it, as they had put out the cheap ones and didn’t come around offering them.)

  8. Good news. When flying on American Airlines, you will know your luggage was dispatched to the wrong destination quicker when you use their AA app to follow your lost passenger baggage.

  9. I think it might help things if connection times at DFW were greater than 30 minutes. I fly into DFW from a smaller city (as do many) and my choices are either 30-40 minutes or 4 hours and 45 minutes.

  10. Is it a problem with the short of MCT? Especially with bulk loading compartment will require extra time to offload and soring by connecting flight on transfer cart. You must realize there is limited humans can do. As I attended twoof GSE convention at Las Vegas and Munich, Germany, there was a removable belt load that can be used for bulk loading type aircraft. This is something you can consider to minimize the extra work for the ramp handlers.

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