The rate of checked bags mishandled by airlines reached a record low in 2016, according to a new report by air transport communications and information technology company SITA.

An average of 5.73 bags per thousand passengers were mishandled last year, down from 6.53 in 2015, and the lowest rate ever recorded.

SITA said that since 2007, mishandled bag rates had fallen 70 per cent, “due to investment in technologies and process improvements by the world’s airlines and airports”.

Transferring from aircraft to aircraft or airline to airline remained the single biggest cause for baggage mishandling, accounting for 47 per cent of cases, with “failure to load“ a distant second at 16 per cent.

The report said mishandling rates area expected to improve even further over the next 18 months, with the implementation of IATA Resolution 753 in June 2018.

The resolution will require all IATA member carriers to track and record bags at four mandatory points – check-in, aircraft loading, at transfer between carriers, and on arrival.

SITA said that when this in place “airlines will be able to share the information with their passengers and codeshare partners allowing them to track their bag, just like a parcel”, meaning “passengers will stay informed and all parties involved in their journey can take action if flights are disrupted and their bags are delayed”.

“It is frustrating for passengers and airlines when bags go missing but the days of not knowing where your bag is will soon to be a thing of the past,” said Ilya Gutlin, SITA President, Air Travel Solutions.

“We are on the brink of a new era in airline baggage management because the world’s airlines are committing to track baggage throughout its journey. This requires data capture, management and sharing across airlines, airports and ground handlers giving a better view of where each piece of luggage is at every stage.

“At SITA we are providing several tracking innovations that will allow the air transport community to scale up their tracking capabilities without massive capital investments.”

For a look at the issue of lost luggage, and how airlines are embracing technology to alleviate the problem, see:

Missing in action: Lost luggage