Air transport IT provider SITA has released its latest Baggage IT Insights report, showing “a surge in baggage mishandling rates”.

The report highlights “an exponential increase in the mishandled baggage rate by 74.7 per cent to 7.6 bags per thousand passengers in 2022”.

SITA said that the increase can be traced “in large part to the resumption of international and long-haul flights”, with mishandling rates eight times higher for international flights than for domestic services.

But the firm said that a shortage of skilled staff and congestion at airports “has made it challenging to manage bags and ensure their smooth handling at airports – particularly during peak travel periods”.

Last year delayed bags accounted for 80 per cent of all mishandled bags, with the remaining 20 per cent accounted for by lost, stolen and damaged bags.

SITA said that the rising rate comes after more than a decade of reduction in mishandled baggage, with “significant process improvements” helping the mishandling rate per thousand passengers fall by 59.7 per cent between 2007 and 2021.

The firm said that the increase “highlighted the need to digitalize baggage processing further”, adding that “Investing in real-time baggage status information has become a key priority for airlines, with 57 per cent of airlines providing their staff with mobile access to real-time baggage status information”.

This figure is set to increase to 84 per cent by 2025, and SITA said that 67 per cent of carriers plan to offer real-time baggage status information directly to passengers, compared to just 25 per cent doing so currently.

Back in 2019 a SITA report said airlines that had started tracking passengers’ bags at more points in transit had been seeing an improvement in levels of mishandling of between 38 per cent and 66 per cent.

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Commenting on the report David Lavorel, SITA CEO, said:

“After a decade where the mishandling rate more than halved between 2007 and 2021, it is disheartening to see this rate climbing again. As an industry, we need to work hard to ensure passengers are once again confident to check in their bags.

“We at SITA are working directly with airlines and airports to help solve key pain points in the baggage journey through smart automation, tracking, and digital platforms.”