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The 10 Airlines Most Likely to Lose or Damage Your Luggage

Airports + Flying
by Matthew Meltzer Sep 6, 2022

Few things in life are as exciting as seeing your luggage come down the baggage carousel. But that excitement can quickly turn to aggravation when you realize the airline has taken your firm, sturdy suitcase, tossed it around like a sack of flour, and subsequently broken off half the handles. While it’s not a terribly frequent occurrence, it does happen. And case manufacturer Trifibre wanted to find out which airlines have it happen the most.

Via a Freedom of Information request from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, Trifibre discovered that nearly ten percent of all damaged bag claims from 2015-2020 came from a single airline. And if you’ve flown in Europe, we probably don’t even need to tell you who it was.

That’s right: Ryanair.

It led the pack of damaged luggage claims by a considerable margin, nearly tripling those made against second-place Emirates. Now-defunct Alitalia, Etihad Airways, and Ibera rounded out the top five.

The ranking for the worst airlines for luggage damage in the UK is:

  1. Ryanair
  2. Emirates
  3. Alitalia
  4. Etihad
  5. Iberia
  6. Royal Air Maroc
  7. Vueling
  8. British Airways
  9. Jet2
  10. Turkish Airlines

This is all useful information if you happen to live or travel in the UK. But what about Yanks staying stateside? Well, Trifibre wasn’t quite as concerned with US airlines’ handling of bags. However, the US Department of Transportation tracks damaged bag complaints, and its 2021 annual report cites domestic airlines who mishandled bags most frequently, whether that means ripping a hole in the side of your luggage or inadvertently sending it to Western Samoa.

In 2021, discount carrier Allegiant was the airline that handled bags best, mishandling just under two bags per thousand. They were just ahead of Hawaiian Airlines, who mishandled just over two bags per thousand. Frontier, JetBlue, and United and its affiliated carriers completed the top five.

The top 10 for the worst airlines for luggage damage in the US (mishandled bags per thousand):

  1. Allegiant 1.96
  2. Hawaiian 2.17
  3. Frontier 3.29
  4. JetBlue 3.88
  5. United 3.97
  6. Spirit 4.21
  7. Southwest 4.62
  8. Alaska 5.52
  9. Delta 5.54
  10. American 7.21

Some may cite these figures as yet more proof that carry-on luggage is the only way to go. Others may see such low percentages as evidence that your odds are still pretty good if you always check a bag.

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