The Low Down on the SITA 2017 Baggage Report The Low Down on the SITA 2017 Baggage Report

The Low Down on the SITA 2017 Baggage Report

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The SITA annual report for 2017 has been published, and it is full of excellent news for travelers. Baggage mishandling has dropped by 7.2% in 2016 compared to 2015, at the same time, 88% of travelers have reunited safely with their baggage in ten minutes or less.

88 Percent Baggage

Overall, the picture represents a year on year improvement, with a total reduction in mishandled baggage of 69.7% since 2007.

The SITA Annual report gives a glimpse into a side of airport operations that most of us don’t see. The company draws data from airlines, airports, governments, and ground services. The report highlights best practices, baggage handling statistics and new technology trends and changes to the legal environment.

Reasons for Bags Delayed in 2016

SITA has a unique insight into the world of baggage handling, since it operates in 2,000 countries around the globe, and handles 90% of all airline intercommunication systems. The company also operates the baggage tracking system for the vast majority of the world’s airlines.

The Big Picture

The trend for 2016 carries on from 2015, with total passengers up from 3.56 billion to 3.77 billion, while mishandled baggage dropped from 23.3 million bags to 21.6 million bags, a reduction of 7.2 percent. The improvement is a lot better than it seems since it does not take passenger numbers into account; when you factor in passenger numbers, 2015 had 6.53 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, while 2016 had 5.73 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, a reduction of 12.25%.

Bags Year over Year 2016

The overall cost of mishandled baggage also fell, from $2.3 billion in 2015 to $2.1 billion in 2016. This is a significant improvement on the record of $46.9 billion from 2007. Since that record high, mishandled baggage numbers have plummeted by 69.7%
Bags Year over Year 2007

New Technology Drives Success

The future for baggage tracking lies with RFID tracking. This innovative solution is highly accurate and can track bags with an uncanny level of precision. The leading airline to pioneer and implement the technology is Delta, which invested $50 million equipping RFID scanners at all its 344 global operations centers. The result is, according to the airline, that they can track baggage with a 99.9% success rate—which is pretty impressive when you consider that the carrier handles 120 million items of luggage every year.

The new technology allowed Delta to upgrade its mobile app in 2016, which lets their customers track their bag at all of its 84 airports in the US, with the mobile app giving a map view of the bag’s journey. SITA argues that RFID tracking is the future, and if implemented across the board would save the airline industry an impressive $3 billion over a seven-year period.

Steps Towards Resolution 753

Most of the improvements in 2016 where implemented by the various stakeholders to comply with the International Air Transport Association Resolution 753— slated to become effective June 2018. The objective of the resolution is to provide end to end baggage tracking information, that can be then passed on to the next carrier if needs be. To achieve this, baggage will be tracked through various key stages:

  • At check in
  • When loaded onto the aircraft
  • On arrival or to the transfer area

To achieve the implementation, several airlines and alliances have made major investments in baggage handling. Star Alliance has established a global IT hub for baggage handling. The new system, which went online at the end of 2016, is designed to cope with the 1.7 million passengers carried by the Alliance every day.


With the implementation of IATA Resolution 753 closing in, it is great to see the whole industry taking great strides to ensure our luggage is better tracked and arrives at its destination safely. The whole of the SITA report can be heavy reading, but if you love aviation, it is well worth a read.

Source: SITA

4 / 5 - (9 votes)

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  • they must not have come to LAX

  • Jason Picker says:

    Not there yet, but great to know that the improvements are there.
    Thanks for posting

  • There are two kinds of luggage: carry on, and lost.

  • I haven’t checked a luggage in a long time, glad I can travel with a carry-on!

  • What frustrates me is a rule change from I believe 2016 that now requires bags to be rechecked if tickets are purchased on separate itineraries, even if it’s with the same airline. I often buy different tickets because the overall fare becomes cheaper, e.g., if I want to go business class overseas but keep the domestic portion economy. I suspect airlines changed this rule because it allows them to charge two fees basically, once for each time checked (a ticket agent admitted to me as much), since they don’t have to combine the two itineraries.

    Has anybody found a way around this?

  • We never check bags. Saves time, money, and keeps us grounded as to what we do and don’t need.

  • Bertrand say says:

    This is one way technology is helping.

  • I avoid checking anything, mostly for speed and convenience, but it’s good to know, just in case.

  • I avoid checking anything, mostly for speed and convenience, but it’s good to know, just in case.

  • Now if only airlines could be more willing to check bags on separate tickets..

  • Headed in the right direction. For me, an inconvenient way to avoid a disastrous trip is to never check a bag.

  • I avoid checking bags as much as I can.

  • Personally, I always try to travel with cabin luggage only.
    This imply not waiting for the luggage and more flexibility in case of cancellation/delays.

  • All kinds of weird statements I don’t understand.

    88% of passengers happy if reunited with their luggage within 10 minutes? I don’t think this means that 88% are actually reunited with their luggage within 10 minutes, but what about the other 12%. Tough crowd!

    Besides, if they are talking about baggage mishandling, aren’t we really looking at hours or days before being reunited with luggage?

    • Craig, it is overall baggage delivery including those that are “on time” and those that are lost/delayed. Apparently, 10 minutes is the threshold that someone is willing to wait. The question I have about that is how long does it take on average from someone to get from the gate to baggage claim, which really tells us how long baggage handlers have to deliver items in a timely fashion.

  • I really like that I can track my bag through Delta app

  • Lost id not so much an issue, damage of baggage is much more a problem….

  • I didn’t know about the bag tracking app, I will give this a look. Modern tech will definetly implement bag tracking for everyone before too long I feel which should eradicate most losses.

  • well with credit card benefit, u can get partial credit back for any luggage loss.

  • Great infi. All good to know.

  • great improvements, I remember the horrid days when bags get lost and/or items inside gets stolen.

  • Karen Klein says:

    I always hate when luggage doesn’t get where it needs to go. My hubby even had his luggage not make it on to a nontop flight! lol! How I do not know. But it’s a constant laugh whenever we think about it! That would be one reason we always do carry on now. Plus, I hate, hate , hate waiting for luggage! Once I’m off a flight I like to leave the airport immediately and start the fun or get home. How do some people even drag around the luggage? Sometimes I see several bags for one person. Less is more for me.

  • says:

    I also love that I can track bags on my phone now with an airlines app. Makes me feel more confident about my bags making it to their destination.

  • Hopefully one day RFID and other technologies will make lost luggage a thing of the past.

    • That would be great! I’ve only experienced a lost bag once (and it was eventually routed to us), but for a day it was quite an inconvenience.

  • Jacqueline parsons says:

    Interesting reading. I didn’t know baggage loss was that high but with air travel increasing to these levels a percentage will always go a miss.

  • It’s interesting to see some progress in baggage delivery but I’m still glad I have travel insurance.

  • It’s good to see these improvements however once luggage is lost you still have to deal with the indifferent airline employees.

  • I cannot remember the last time I had a checked bag temporarily misplaced. This is one less thing to worry about.

  • Good news! Although still too high.