Why Has There Been A Rise In Lost Luggage At Airports In 2022?
Posted by Mike Atherton on 20 April, 2023
The specter of lost luggage is a nightmare for both commercial and leisure travelers, as the number of lost and misplaced luggage items at airports around the world has seen a noticeable uptick throughout 2022. The reasons for this are varied and complex, but there are several primary factors that have contributed to this (hopefully temporary) trend.
1. Long Covid
As the world continues to return to normality after more than two years of lockdowns and travel restrictions, the demand for domestic and international air travel has rebounded strongly in 2022. Unfortunately, many American and international airports were forced to downsize during the Covid 19 pandemic to stay viable, which often meant laying off large numbers of luggage handlers, as well as pilots and other support staff needed to provide a prompt service at the airport.
Many airports carried this reduced capacity into 2022 and have struggled to make up ground in the past year, meaning that in some cases they failed to provide all their usual services – including luggage claim, resulting in delayed or lost luggage becoming a recurring problem.
2. Overcrowding At Airports
Another significant cause of increased lost luggage – not unique to 2022 – is overcrowding at airports, due to increased passenger numbers, especially at busy international hubs, such as Hartsfield-Jackson (Atlanta), Dallas-Fort Worth (Tx), and O’Hare International (Chicago). As more people fly abroad or interstate for work and pleasure, large and understaffed airports become congested and there is a greater chance of luggage being misplaced or misdirected. To cope with the additional demand, airport staff may be overworked or lack sufficient resources and infrastructure to adequately handle all passengers’ baggage. This can lead to mistakes in handling luggage that results in it going to the wrong destination.
3. Luggage Tracking Technology
Another factor is that many airports in 2022 are using new automated technology to track bags, which can make the process more vulnerable to errors. Although these systems may improve efficiency and accuracy long-term, they can also be prone to glitches or malfunctions during implementation that lead to lost baggage. With so much data being handled in a single system by machine algorithms outside of direct human supervision (e.g. from remote check-ins), it is also easier for incorrect information to be entered and for mistakes to occur without anyone noticing.
4. Inefficient Luggage Handling Policies
Finally, the lack of clear and consistent policies between airports (even within the US) can also create confusion when it comes to dealing with lost luggage. Different rules and procedures may mean that airport staff are unable to adequately handle certain kinds of baggage or transfer items between terminals or domestic airports. This can lead to delays in baggage being returned to its rightful owner, resulting in an aggregate increase in lost items.
Can You Prevent Your Luggage Being Lost At The Airport?
After you’ve checked in your luggage at the airport, it is largely out of your hands until you reach your destination point. However, by understanding the causes of increased lost luggage at airports, travelers, their employers, and their TMCs can be better prepared when travelling and may even reduce the chances of their bags going AWOL. Some travelers are starting to use Bluetooth tracking devices to monitor where their luggage is/should be, for example – overcoming potential failures in airport tracking systems.
It is clear that more must be done by airports and airlines to ensure that all passengers’ belongings are handled safely and securely. As more business travelers take to the skies in 2023, it is essential that airports have the resources and infrastructure to adequately handle their luggage needs. Otherwise, lost luggage will continue to be a major problem next year.
Mantic Point offers an easy-to-use mobile travel management interface that provides everything needed for end-to-end traveler management for corporate travel departments and TMCs. If you’d like to find out more or discuss your corporate travel requirements, please call one of our team today on +44 113 394 4564.
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