It’s travel’s greatest mystery: where do missing bags go and which airline has lost the most bags?

It’s travel’s greatest mystery: where do missing bags go and which airline has lost the most bags?
Edited by Travel Weekly

    Everyone’s worst travel nightmare is arriving at your destination only to find your baggage hasn’t travelled with you. Over 7 million pieces of luggage were reported as mishandled from 2021 to 2024, with American Airlines being the company with the most luggage mishandled.

    Research by luggage shipping experts, analyzed data from the US Department of Transport Air Travel Consumer Report. The data included the total number of bags, wheelchairs, and scooters enplaned from January 2021 to January 2024. This was then compared to the total number of reports of these items being mishandled.

    American Airlines has mishandled the most baggage of any airline in America with 1,750,009 reports. This is 8.71 bags per 1,000 enplaned. This Airline is the biggest in the world when measured by scheduled passengers carried and has 960 mainline aircraft, the second largest fleet in the world. The sheer size of this airline means it may come as no surprise that it places number one in this ranking.

    The second airline mishandling the most baggage is Envoy Airlines. This American regional airline operates over 1,000 flights daily to 150 destinations. With over 27 million total luggage enplaned, 224,236 were reported as mishandled, which is equal to 8.25 per 1,000 bags enplaned.

    The third airline to mishandle the most luggage is Republic Airways. The airline is responsible for mishandling 194,189 pieces of luggage out of the 27,750,643 bags enplaned, equal to 7.01 for every 1,000. 489 of the mishandled luggage were wheelchairs or other forms of mobility vehicles (12.09 per 1,000).

    Alaska Airlines is the fifth-largest airline across America and Canada when measuring by the number of passengers. With over 60 million bags enplaned across the years analyzed, 402,781 were mishandled (6.69 per 1,000).

    The fifth company to have mishandled the most luggage is United Airlines. It is one of the biggest in the world for destinations served, flying to over 300 places worldwide. In doing so, over 144 million bags have been enplaned. Of these, 932,000 were reported as mishandled (6.43 per 1,000 bags). This includes 3,349 wheelchairs or other forms of mobility vehicles.

    PSA Airlines is the sixth airline on this list to have mishandled the most baggage. PSA has enplaned over 34 million pieces of luggage, 23,508 being a mobility vehicle or wheelchair. 207,060 were reported mishandled, equal to 6.06 for every 1,000 pieces of luggage. If including only mobility vehicles, 510 were mishandled which is 21.69 per 1,000 enplaned.

    JetBlue is a low-cost airline in America operating over 1,000 flights every day. The volume of flights equates to many bags passing through their cargo holds daily, just over 44 million in total from 2021 to 2024. 251,388 of these were reported as mishandled which equates to 5.67 bags mishandled per 1,000 enplaned. When just including wheelchairs and mobility vehicles, JetBlue mishandled the most with 33 for every 1,000 enplaned or 2,661 out of 79,461.

    SkyWest Airlines ranks eighth on this list with 5.28 bags mishandled for every 1,000 enplaned. SkyWest’s fleet of 500 planes carried 38.6 million passengers in 2023 alone, however across all three years 439,290 passenger bags were mishandled.

    Delta Airlines is a major airline in the US serving over 300 destinations with over 5,000 flights daily. With over 217 million pieces of luggage enplaned, 1,107,525 were reported as mishandled (5.10 per 1,000). 3,317 of those lost were wheelchairs or other mobility vehicles.

    Spirit Airlines is the final airline on this list having enplaned just over 37 million bags, with 185,610 of these being mishandled, a rate of 4.93 for every 1,000 bags enplaned.

    A spokesperson from commented “Airports are some of the busiest and most complex pieces of infrastructure with thousands if not tens of thousands of people flowing through them daily. Usually, places of excitement and joy can quickly switch up if you arrive to find your bags were left behind or on their own vacation somewhere else!

    The data shows that these circumstances are rare; even with the Airline that loses the most luggage (America Airlines), there is still only a 0.87% chance that they would lose your luggage based on the stats from the past three years.”

    Email the Travel Weekly team at


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