Bags fare better on airlines in 2008. Bags fare better on airlines in 2008. [Enlarge]

The 2.3 billion passengers, who flew worldwide last year, endured one fifth less mishandled baggage than their counterparts did in 2007, according to SITA, the global information technology company, which has its North American headquarters in Atlanta.

Geneva, Switzerland-based SITA was founded in 1949 by 11 airlines. Today, it has more than 550 airlines, airports, aerospace companies, freight organizations and governments as its customers.

The group released its baggage handling figures on March 25 based on the findings of WorldTracer, its automated system for tracing lost and mishandled passenger baggage used by more than 440 airlines and ground-handling companies worldwide.

According to its report, the WorldTracer database last year showed a mishandling of 32.8 million bags, or a rate of 14.28 bags per thousand passengers worldwide, compared to 42.4 million mishandled bags in 2007 for a rate of 18.86 per thousand.

SITA has been compiling this information for five years.

“The good news is that for the first time since we started publishing this report there has been a significant drop in both mishandling and lost baggage rates,” Francesco Violante, SITA’s CEO said in a statement. “With almost 10 million fewer bags mishandled last year, the industry saved $800 million.”

The drop in mishandled baggage numbers, according to the report, is due to several reasons including the increasing number of airlines charging for baggage, resulting in fewer bags being checked in. Also, some airlines have relaxed their policies concerning carry-on baggage, reducing the need to place bags in the hold, the report said.

In addition, the report said that the single biggest problem for baggage handlers is when bags are being transferred from one aircraft to another. There, however, has been a drop in the number of mishandled cases during this process, the report said.

Other causes of mishandled baggage, according to SITA’s data, included failure to load, 16 percent; ticketing error, 13 percent; arrival station mishandling, 8 percent and space-weight restrictions, airport and customs procedures and the weather, 6 percent.

To view the entire report, go to www.sita.aero/baggage_report

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