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Why American Loses More Bags Than Any Other US Airline

Why American Loses More Bags Than Any Other US Airline
Jennifer Billock

Sorry, flyers. About 3 million of you ended up with lost or mishandled bags last year, according to rankings from the U.S. Department of Transportation. And if you’re a fan of American Airlines, you fared the worst, taking the brunt of it—nearly a third of all those bags were lost or mishandled by American Airlines. That’s about 8.5 pieces of luggage for every thousand pieces.

So What Happened?

American had a lot of excuses for the lack of baggage control in 2019.

“Last year, we faced significant operational challenges that impacted our results, including the grounding of the Max, and, most significantly, a higher number of aircraft out of service,” American Airlines’ spokesperson Ross Feinstein said a statement, reported by Dallas News. “A big contributor to our high [aircraft out of service] numbers was the illegal [union mechanics] slowdown, which disrupted our operation during the peak period.”

Most of the baggage problems happened over the summer, but even when that cleared up—in part thanks to a restraining order and harsher penalties by a judge—the airline still had the highest amount of issues every month through December. And they didn’t even carry the most bags per passenger. That honor went to Southwest, who ranked third best for handling luggage.

As what may seem like another blow to American passengers, the airline also collected the most baggage fees than any other major U.S. carrier.

Where Do the Other Airlines Stand?

Ultra-low-cost carriers seemed to be the best about not losing or mishandling peoples’ luggage. Allegiant took top spot, only having issues with 1.75 bags for every thousand. Frontier was next, at 4.2 bags, then Southwest at 4.4, Hawaiian at 4.45, Delta at 4.69, Spirit at 4.76, Alaska at 5.24, and United and Jet Blue tied for second-worst at 6.8 bags per thousand.

Southwest, having done fairly well, shows that American had no excuse to mess up so many bags—they also had to deal with union problems and loss of planes from the 737MAX controversy. But, spokesperson Brian Parrish told the Dallas News, they also had more digital tracking of bags than ever before, which helped locate anything that went missing.

View Comments (6)


  1. SpartyAir

    February 25, 2020 at 2:05 am

    How does not having the 737MAX have anything to do with mishandled bags? No plane, no bags to lose. The bags go on the plane the passenger goes on.

  2. bostontraveler

    February 25, 2020 at 5:47 am

    “than any *US* airline”.

  3. mizzou miles

    February 27, 2020 at 5:18 am

    Grammar check please:

    As what may seem like another blow to American passengers, the airline also collected the most baggage fees than any other major U.S. carrier. HUH?

  4. ijgordon

    February 27, 2020 at 6:52 am

    AA sucks. I had a ~75 minute connection (first flight was a little early) in DFW, the planes were maybe 5-7 gates apart from one another and they STILL couldn’t get our two checked bags from one to the other. Apparently they went on the next flight into LGA an hour or so later (at least they have tracking), but no way I was waiting around the airport – you can deliver them to my door, chumps!

    Delta is great with bags, and they come out FAST, unless you’re at JFK, then expect to wait!

  5. KBMIFlyer

    February 27, 2020 at 10:39 am

    “Why American Loses More Bags Than Any Other US Airline” Isn’t one of the basics of journalism is that your story should reflect your headline? This article does nothing to answer why American loses more bags, and is basically a rewriting of the linked Dallas morning news article.


    February 28, 2020 at 2:04 am

    The mechanics have nothing to do with how the bags are handled, either.

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