It's about (bleeping) time, I say.
I have had two experiences with bags not flying the same flights as me this year.
One on Southwest, one on United.
Back in January, I was ticketed on WN MDW-SAN-SJC. I got a text on my way to the airport that MDW-SAN was delayed, and I realized the delay would break my SAN-SJC connection. I went to the ticket counter to check in, get rebooked (MDW-LAS-SJC) and checked my bag.
Upon arrival in SJC, I stood around for 20-30 minutes after bags started coming off the carousel. Carousel stopped spinning, no bag. Went into the WN baggage office. They had no clue where my bag was. They didn't know if it went on the original flight to SAN and was now lost in the system trying to find its way to SJC. Or maybe it got misrouted in LAS (there was plenty of time at LAS for the connection).
They simply had no clue. And that's something that I found very troubling for an airline in the 21st century. They made some guesses, and had me wait around the airport for a little while until the next bank of flights came in.
After those planes arrived, still no bag. Still no clue where it was. I had to get to my hotel (in Oakland), so I gave them the info to deliver it to my hotel.
Finally, around 10 or 11 ish PM, the bag arrived at SJC, and eventually (around 7 or 8 am the next morning) it got delivered to my hotel (barely 30 minutes before I was going to go to the store and buy some clothes for my business meeting and send WN the bill).
Delays and reroutes happen, I understand. But the not having any clue where it is or when it will arrive part is what really got me.
Fast forward to last month, when I'm flying UA BUR-DEN-ORD. BUR-DEN is delayed a bit due to late inbound (on UA Express). We finally land about 20 minutes before the departure of my connection, and I high-tail it over to the next gate. I'm not sure if the bag had enough time to connect.
Upon landing in ORD, I head over to the baggage claim area (I should note that the flight arrived at 1 am, and I was dead tired from all the traveling), still not sure if my bag made it or not. I see a couple of kiosks in baggage claim that actually allow you to check on the status of your bag. Strangely, two of the three kiosks are out of service, saying that between the hours of 11 pm and 4 am (or something like that). Not sure why those computers need to sleep at night. But, in any event, a third computer was up and running. I was able to enter my reservation info in, and it told me right away that my bag was still in Denver, and I was able to submit a claim right there, along with the delivery address for where they should send the bag when it got in.
I didn't even wait for the first bag to come off the carousel to know that it would be a waste of time for me to stand around, for 20-30 minutes, then have to wait in line at the baggage claim office at a time that would be pushing 2 in the morning. Instead, I just grabbed my carryon (and the claim receipt from the machine) and headed straight to a taxi (was too tired to spend wait 25 minutes for the next Blue Line, then spend 50 minutes riding back home).
While others may not necessarily think it's a big deal, I'll say that in the event of a bag delay, the ability to know where your suitcase is and that it's not just "missing" is a huge stress-reliever.