At an internal meeting on Friday, American Airlines President Robert Isom told employees “every lost bag is nearly $60.” That amount was new to me.
In January alone American mishandled 74,975 bags, the most in the industry by far, and not any improvement over the prior year. At $60 per bag it cost American $4.5 million, and annualized at the same rate $54 million. Extrapolating similar costs for the industry would mean US carriers losing over $160 million a year to mishandled bags.
It would be even costlier to airlines if they were forced to refund checked bag fees when losing a customer’s luggage, something that’s only required for Canadian passengers.
It makes sense to invest to reduce these costs.
- Sometimes lost items can be recovered, like when an American employee listed a passenger’s clothing on Facebook marketplace or when a TSA employee look a camera and forgot to remove the CNN stickers before listing it on eBay.
- The high costs are likely why Delta worked to leverage the gig economy to deliver lost bags.
- It’s no surprise to see this Japan Airlines employee at London Heathrow making sure every bag is laid symmetrically on the belt at baggage claim.
— Heathrow Airport (@HeathrowAirport) September 25, 2019
In the U.S. however there are only two kinds of luggage: carry on and lost. Two years ago an American Airlines baggage handler fell asleep in the cargo hold and flew to Chicago.
This, however, is how to get it right: