New airline bag tracking system halves mishandling cases, SITA claims

24 Apr 2019 by Jenni Reid
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Airlines that have started tracking passengers’ bags at more points in transit are seeing a significant improvement in levels of mishandling, according to a new report from aviation tech company SITA.

The rate of improvement ranged between 38 per cent and 66 per cent, depending on the level of tracking introduced. ‘Mishandling’ can refer to bags that are lost, stolen, damaged or delayed.

Last year, the International Air Transport Association (which includes 290 airlines) passed Resolution 753, which states that members should track bags at four key points – handover from the passenger, loading onto the aircraft, delivery to transfer area and return to the passenger – and share tracking information with interline journey partners as needed.

Passengers checked in 4.27 billion bags in 2018, with an average 5.69 bags per thousand being mishandled.

The SITA report notes that automation and other new technologies have led to the total number of mishandled bags plummeting between 2007 and 2018, from 46.9 million to 24.8 million, even as passenger numbers have risen by 76 per cent.

“Transferring bags from one aircraft to another, or one airline to another, continues to be a pinch point for baggage handling, and these transfer bags represented 46 per cent of all delayed bags in 2018, albeit slightly down from 2017,” writes SITA’s CEO Barbara Dalibard in the report.

Fewer bags saw loading/offloading errors, but there was a slight increase in ticketing errors and bag switches.

“We analysed about 10 million bag records in BagJourney, and used machine learning techniques to validate the results,” said Peter Drummond, Portfolio Director for Baggage at SITA.

“This revealed that bag tracking implementation at loading is helping airlines to improve their baggage mishandling rate by at least 38 per cent – if they already had good processes in place.

“If they had not previously undertaken any tracking, their bag mishandling rate reduced by up to 66 per cent. Loading is one of the easiest journey stages for an airline to implement tracking and is key to delivering the benefits of Resolution 753.”

The report also found that 26 per cent of travellers received baggage collection notifications via their mobile devices last year, with these passengers reporting 8.6 per cent higher satisfaction rates than those relying on screen or public announcements.

Almost two thirds of respondents to a SITA survey said they would definitely track their bags on mobile apps, use bag collection information at arrivals and use their mobiles to report mishandled bags.

Read more about how bag handling processes are evolving:

Five ways the airport experience is changing

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