Tracking bags drives 66% improvement in baggage delivery, SITA report finds

posted on 25th April 2019 by Justin Burns

Airlines that are adding tracking at more points of the baggage journey are enjoying a huge improvement in bag delivery globally, according to the SITA 2019 Baggage IT Insights Sreport.

The report launched at an event in Abu Dhabi International Airport yesterday – shows that where tracking is done at check-in and loading onto the aircraft, the rate of improvement is as high as 66 per cent.

These results come as the record drop in the baggage mishandling rate achieved globally over the past decade plateaus, with the rate steady at around 5.7 bags per thousand passengers over the past three years. In 2018, the rate was 5.69 per thousand passengers.

Over the past year, an increasing number of airlines and airports have started to introduce tracking at key points in the journey – check-in, loading onto the aircraft, transfers and arrival – to improve baggage management and further reduce the chances of a bag being mishandled.

SITA’s research provides the first glimpse of the success of this tracking. It reveals that where bags were being tracked when loaded onto the aircraft, the rate of improvement ranged between 38 per cent and 66 per cent depending on the level of tracking introduced.

SITA director of baggage, Peter Drummond said: “While the mishandling rate has started to plateau over the past few years, this comes against a continued growth in passenger numbers and their bags. In 2018, 4.36 billion travelers checked in more than 4.27 billion bags.

“More bags makes things more challenging. Everyone across the industry needs to look beyond the process and technology improvements made in the past decade and adopt the latest technology such as tracking to make the next big cut in the rate of mishandled bags.”

Abu Dhabi Airports acting chief operations officer, Ahmed Juma Al Shamsi said: “For our passengers the timely delivery of baggage is key to ensuring a seamless passenger experience and therefore an area in which we continue to make further improvements.

“Looking forward, baggage tracking is fundamental to driving more accurate bag delivery not only at Abu Dhabi International Airport but across the entire passenger journey. We have led the way with the introduction of tracking on arrival and we have already seen significant improvements.” 

Transferring baggage from one aircraft, or airline, to another remains a pinch point in the journey and in 2018 it was again the main reason for bags being mishandled. Transfer bags accounted for 46 per cent of all mishandled bags.

Drummond added: “Transfer is by far the most difficult stage to track a bag as there are multiple airlines and airports involved.

“However, data from this year’s report shows that tracking at key points in the journey, such as transfers, will go a long way to eliminating mishandling and will allow airlines and their passengers to keep tabs on where their bags are at every step of the way.”

Over the past decade, total number of mishandled bags per annum has plummeted 47 per cent from 46.9 million in 2007 to 24.8 million in 2018, while the annual bill footed by the industry has shrunk 43 per cent to $2.4 billion, down from $4.22 billion in 2007.