Mishandled Baggage Hits a New Low -- And We Mean That In A Good Way

Baggage claim at Sacramento International Airport (photo by D.L. via flickr)

Not only are you more likely to get to your destination in one piece, your luggage will too.

According to the DOT, last year U.S. carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.09 reports per 1,000 passengers. In 2011, that rate was 3.35.

The DOT is also releasing data on tarmac delays, cancellations, and arrival times. Read below for the whole report.

Airlines Report Lowest Mishandled Baggage Rate in 18 Years in 2012 

The nation’s largest airlines reported their lowest rate of mishandled baggage for a year during 2012, and set high marks for on-time performance, the fewest long tarmac delays, and a low rate of canceled flights.

According to the Air Travel Consumer Report issued today by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the reporting carriers posted a rate of 3.09 reports of mishandled baggage per 1,000 passengers, an improvement on 2011’s rate of 3.35 and their lowest rate of mishandled baggage for a year since this data was first reported in September 1987.

The 15 largest U.S. airlines also posted an 81.85 percent on-time arrival rate during 2012, the third highest annual performance in the 18 years the Department has collected comparable data. The high was 82.14 percent in 2002, followed by 81.96 in 2003. The 1.29 percent cancellation rate for the year also was the second lowest rate for the past 18 years, with the lowest being the 1.24 percent mark set in 2002.

In addition, there were 42 tarmac delays longer than three hours on U.S. domestic flights in 2012, down from 50 delays in 2011, which was the first full year the rule limiting tarmac delays was in effect. This follows the Department’s rule, which took effect in April 2010, setting a three-hour limit for aircraft carrying passengers on domestic flights to sit on the tarmac. Exceptions to the time limits are allowed only for safety, security or air traffic control-related reasons.

Between May 2009 and April 2010, the final 12 months before the rule took effect, the carriers reported 693 tarmac delays of more than three hours. Since August 2011, U.S. and foreign airlines operating international flights at U.S. airports have been subject to a four-hour tarmac delay limit.

“This remarkable decrease in flight delays, tarmac incidents, cancellations and mishandled bags is a tribute both to the hard work of the airlines and the Department of Transportation’s oversight of the aviation industry,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.   “We will continue to work with the carriers to make air travel more convenient and hassle-free for consumers.”

The monthly Air Travel Consumer Report also includes data on chronically delayed flights and the causes of flight delays filed with the Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by the reporting carriers. In addition, the report contains information on airline bumping as well as customer service, disability, and discrimination complaints received by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.  This report also includes reports of incidents involving pets traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers. Calendar year 2012 data are contained in the report in a number of areas as well as data for December 2012.

A news release on the Air Travel Consumer Report is available at http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/airlines-report-lowest-mishandled-baggage-rate-18-years-2012 . The full consumer report is available at www.dot.gov/individuals/air-consumer/air-travel-consumer-reports. Detailed information on flight delays is available at www.bts.gov.