Connecting to American Eagle In Chicago? Expect Wet Bags

According to Department of Transportation statistics American Airlines is number 8 out of 8 airlines in baggage mishandling. They view this as a competitive disadvantage in the Chicago market where they lag United (#4 of 8). So they’re working to improve their baggage reliability statistics. Whether the bags make it to you dry seems like it may be another matter.

Effective February 5 American is eliminating use of the “hand off cart.” Currently passengers connecting from mainline to Envoy (the wholly owned regional carrier) have their bags put in a cart for Envoy to pick up and take to the correct gate. With this change bags will, instead, be left outside on the ground “for the regional baggage runners to sort and handle.” This:

  • “reduce[s] the need to sort through full carts”
  • reduces the likelihood of aircraft damage with fewer carts by planes
  • leads to “fewer unnecessary bags entering the baggage system”

American Airlines at Chicago O’Hare

It also seems as though it means bags exposed more to the elements – rain, snow, and perhaps de-icing fluid. As they say “you get what you measure” and a goal of fewer misdelivered bags is different than a goal of delivering bags on-time and unmolested.

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, 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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  1. Wow. AA is really struggling to marts the profitability of UA and DL and keeps looking at what they can cut to save money.

  2. I connected in ATL on a two-flight trip from DCA to SCL via Delta several years ago. It was pouring rain in Atlanta. When I got to my hotel in Santiago and opened my suitcase, every single article of clothing (other than my business suits which were in their own travel bag) was soaking wet. Even with the dry climate in Chile, it took me nearly 24 hours to dry all the articles of clothing. No regional carriers were involved — all mainline Delta.

  3. A lady from an ex USSR country showed me about 20 years how she packed. I guess when you grow up in the USSR you are used to terrible service. She would pack everything in waterproof plastic bags.

    Since then I will put a bunch of stuff in plastic bags, even garbage bags to keep things dry unless my bag gets submerged.

    I’ve seen bags sitting in a rainstorm waiting for a baggage handler to load them. Sucks for the unprepared.

  4. AA’s a complete wreck, it’ll take years to dig out of the hole they’re in.

    Flying F last year my bag was ‘left behind’ from a flight. Inbound flight was on time. Super long and annoying layover. Somehow my bag missed the flight. 24 hours later it showed up. AA said I was entitled to 2k AAdvantage miles for the delay. They didn’t budge when I told them DL economy broken IFE was proactively given 5k miles, I didn’t even have to complain. Nope, AA is a lost cause.

  5. I work for AA and it’s a complete joke right now how they are operating. Customer service is no where near thier concern, employee morale is at an all time low. This change in policy doesn’t even have anything to do with what they are saying it is about, it’s really about AA mainline union TWU 512 trying to show that regional Envoy Air can’t handle the work and they are secretly trying to take it over, but the customers will be the ones that pay the ultimate price

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