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American Airlines mishandled and lost more luggage than any carrier last year

U.S. airlines lost or mishandled almost 3 million pieces of luggage in 2019, and nearly a third of those were on American Airlines flights.

Fort Worth-based American fell to last in 2019 in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s rankings for mishandled and lost luggage, botching delivery on 8.48 of every 1,000 pieces of baggage. To compare, Southwest Airlines’ mishandled baggage rate was about half that.

The data includes numbers for American and its branded codeshare partners, which captures its own mainline and Envoy regional flights and those operated by its regional affiliates, including Mesa and SkyWest airlines.

Ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant was the best at delivering luggage and Frontier, another low-cost carrier, ranked second. Dallas-based Southwest was the third-best for handling baggage after ranking second-to-last in 2018 among carriers excluding regional airlines.

American blamed its bad year for baggage on the airline’s troubles, including clashes with union mechanics and the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max.

“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,” said a statement from American spokesman Ross Feinstein. “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.”

American Airlines lost and found led the industry in lost and mishandled luggage in 2019

American Airlines led the industry in lost and mishandled luggage in 2019

U.S. commercial airlines lost about 5.85 bags per 1,000 they handled in 2019. Here’s how the carriers rank:



All carriers




















per 1,000 bags enplaned

Feinstein said the company’s operational performance has improved since a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order in August in the work slowdown case. The court also threatened harsh punishments if there weren’t improvements, and the sides came to a tentative contract agreement in January.

American is still without the 737 Max and will likely be until at least August.

Even though American’s baggage handling statistics improved after the busy and problem-plagued summer months in 2019, it still ranked last among the major carriers every month between September and December.
Southwest improved its baggage handling results even though it also clashed with union mechanics and lost planes because of the 737 Max crisis. Southwest spokesman Brian Parrish said the company started using more digital tracking on luggage last year, which aided in locating bags that didn’t arrive on the same flight. That helped Southwest to its best luggage handling statistics in company history, he said.

Southwest checked more bags than any other airline with 121 million in 2019, almost 2 million more than American.

Southwest carried the most bags in 2019
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, which doesn’t charge fees on the first two checked bags, carried 121.5 million pieces of luggage in 2019, almost two million more than American.



The government’s airline luggage handling rankings came out just ahead of what could be another round of baggage fee hikes for passengers. On Friday, United said it would increase bag fees by $5 to $35 for the first bag and $45 for the second. JetBlue made a similar increase.

American Airlines was already on pace in 2019 to collect record revenues for bag fees. American collected more than $1 billion in bag fees through the first three quarters of 2019 and is on pace to finish the year with more than $1.3 billion in revenue from luggage. In late 2018, American followed Delta and United by increasing fees from $25 for the first checked bag to $30, and from $35 to $40 for the second bag.

Delta collected $783 million in bag fees through the first three quarters and United made $772 million. Southwest collected $38 million in fees

Lost something at Airport or in a flight? Click here to report online

Dedicated investigation manager for every successful lost report. We work with more than 15000+ Airports & Airlines lost and found offices worldwide. Increase chance of locating your lost property TODAY.

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