26 million bags were mishandled around the world last year

  • Global
  • Friday, 09 Jun 2023

According to a study, a total of 26 million bags were mishandled globally last year. — AFP

The rate of lost, damaged or delayed luggage nearly doubled last year as air travel rebounded and the sector faced staff shortages following the Covid-19 pandemic, a recent study found.

The report by SITA, an IT provider for the air transport industry, said 7.6 bags per 1,000 passengers were mishandled in 2022, up from 4.35 per 1,000 passengers the previous year.

The surge follows more than a decade of reduction in the rate of mishandled luggage, according to SITA.

In total, 26 million bags were mishandled last year, compared to 9.9 million in 2021, as the number of travellers neared pre-Covid-19 levels, the study showed.

“After a decade where the mishandling rate more than halved between 2007 and 2021, it is disheartening to see this rate climbing again,” said SITA chief executive David Lavorel.

“As an industry, we need to work hard to ensure passengers are once again confident to check in their bags,” he said.

Passenger air traffic soared to 3.42 billion last year, but airports and airlines had fewer staff to handle the surge after laying off thousands when the pandemic brought the sector to its knees.

Air traffic had reached 4.5 billion in 2019, with a baggage mishandling rate of 5.6 bags per 1,000 passengers.

The highest rate of mishandled bags in 2022 was in Europe, with 15.7 per 1,000 passengers, a threefold increase from the previous year.

This compared to 6.35 per 1,000 passengers in North America and three per 1,000 in Asia.

SITA used data from its luggage tracking software used by 500 customers at 2,800 airports globally for the study.

A closer look at cost

In other news, many airlines now offer the option of holding an airfare for a certain amount of time when you’re looking to book a plane ticket. But can this strategy really help save money on your travel budget?

Heir to the Italian airline Alitalia, which went bankrupt in 2021, ITA Airways recently announced a new fare holding option on ticket prices, securing the price for 72 hours. At first glance, this seems like a sensible solution, since you can often end up checking airfares several times in a short period of time when planning a trip. And through data tracking, fares can sometimes go up when carriers spot that you are close to making a booking (unless you use a VPN and search in private browsing mode).

Paying a fee

Freezing a fare for a short period of time could provide relief for travellers who are anxious to find the low fare they previously stumbled upon. The option is all the more attractive as it is now offered by many airlines.

However, this option usually comes at a cost. While price holding periods range from 48 hours to 72 hours depending on the airline, there is more consensus among carriers when it comes to charging for this option. A “detail” that is not always clearly explained and which isn’t always immediately obvious on carriers’ online portals.

At Singapore Airlines, the cost of holding an airfare starts from SG$5 (RM16.90), while Romanian low-cost airline Blue Air charges a similar amount to secure an airfare, at €3 (RM14.70). The cost can be as high as €12 (RM59) per booking for the Russian airline Aeroflot. And this cost is not usually deductible from the final cost of the ticket, as Air New Zealand clearly states.

Many airlines offer fare-holding options for round-trip tickets, but it's not always a great way to save money.Many airlines offer fare-holding options for round-trip tickets, but it's not always a great way to save money.

Be quick

Meanwhile, it’s wise not to be completely indecisive when you choose to use this service at Lufthansa. While the fare you’ve found can be locked for 48 hours, a cancellation fee of €30 (RM147) will apply if you do not go on to complete the booking. As such, the service can hardly be seen as a money-saving trick, unless you’re almost certain to follow through with the purchase. Such is the paradoxical nature of this option, which is never refundable!

It is important to have this in mind, because while not all airlines provide clear information about the cost of this option, others aren’t always clear about how much it will cost if you do not follow through with a frozen airfare. Be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully.

However, it should be noted that compared to the costs of cancelling or changing a booking, this option is still usually more cost-effective.

Moreover, looking at the conditions of sale of the fare holding service offered by Qatar Airways, for example, it seems that this option is not available for all destinations. Plus, its cost differs depending on whether the service is used for a long-haul or a domestic flight, when the flight departs and how long the hold period is for.

Finally, it is important to check the type of fare involved. With Singapore Airlines, for example, you can only secure the price of economy and premium economy class fares. Also, the option sometimes only covers just the fare of the flight – usually a round trip – and not any additional costs such as seat choices or onboard meals, as is the policy applied by Blue Air. – AFP Relaxnews

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