It may not ruin a trip, but if an airline loses or damages luggage, it certainly creates an aggravation nobody wants. And if the luggage is lost or damaged, travelers — at the very least — may need to change or delay their itinerary.
While the odds of luggage being lost or damaged are relatively slim, it does happen. To avoid that situation, many travelers pack as much as they can in carry-on bags. Fortunately, you can also use the information in this new report to minimize the chance of losing your luggage or having it damaged by an airline.
The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics compiles an annual report that tracks the number of bags that were mishandled — a category that includes checked bags that were “lost, damaged, delayed, and pilfered” — while they were in the airline’s possession for domestic non-stop passenger flights.
The 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report notes how many bags were handled by airlines, as well as how many were mishandled. It even breaks it down to the number of bags mishandled by an airline per 1,000 bags.
Let’s get right to it. Here are the top 10 US airlines least likely to lose or damage your luggage:
4.78 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
As a wholly-owned subsidiary, PSA provides regional service as part of American Airlines’ network throughout the midwest and eastern US The airline operates more than 800 daily flights to nearly 100 destinations.
Out of 1,130.847 bags handled by PSA Airlines over the 12-month period reported, the airline mishandled 5,403 bags, or 4.78 bags out of 1,000, according to the 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report.
9. Southwest Airlines
4.62 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
Southwest, which offered 168.9 million seats for sale in 2021, is the third-largest US airline, according to Simple Flying. The airline, based in Dallas, operated more than 4,000 weekday departures among 121 airports and across 11 countries in 2021.
Southwest handled 8,917,967 bags over the reported 12-month period. Of those bags, 41,245 were mishandled, according to the 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report. That means 4.62 out of every 1,000 bags were mishandled.
8. SkyWest Airlines
4.51 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
SkyWest Airlines partnered with United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines to carry more than 36 million passengers in 2021, according to the airline. The airline, which is headquartered in St. George, Utah, enables travelers to reach nearly 250 destinations throughout North America, connecting smaller airports with hubs in locations such as Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Phoenix.
SkyWest handled 2,481,721 bags over the 12-month period. The research found that 11,191 bags, or 4.51 out of 1,000 bags, were mishandled.
7. Spirit Airlines
4.21 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
Spirit explains that it offers 500 daily flights to more than 67 destinations at “ultra low fares.” Those flights include locations in the US as well as the Caribbean and Latin America. Based in Miramar, Florida, Spirit was the third-largest US airline last year, offering 40.6 million seats, according to Simple Flying.
According to the research, Spirit handled 834,886 bags over the 12-month period that was studied. Of that number, 3,516 bags, or 4.21 per 1,000 bags, were mishandled.
6. Horizon Air
4.01 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
Horizon Air was formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1981 to offer service between Seattle, Yakima, and Pasco, Washington. Today, Horizon, which is part of the Seattle-based Alaska Air Group holding company, serves more than 45 cities in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.
Over the 12-month period, Horizon handled 368,597 bags. Of that number, the Air Travel Consumer Report notes that 1,477 bags were mishandled. This means that 4.01 bags out of 1,000 were mishandled.
5. JetBlue Airways
3.88 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
Based in New York City, JetBlue was the seventh-largest US airline by number of passengers in 2021, offering 40.4 million seats, according to Simple Flying. The airline serves more than 100 destinations across the US, Caribbean, and Latin America, principally flying out of hubs in New York City, Boston, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Los Angeles, Orlando, and San Juan.
Over the course of 12 months, JetBlue handled 1,189,433 bags. The airline mishandled 4,613 bags during that time, or 3.88 bags out of 1,000, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report.
4. United Airlines
3.85 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
United was the fourth-largest airline in the US in 2021 — offering 140.6 million seats throughout the year, Simple Flying notes. The airline, which is based in Chicago, operates 3,118 flights each day to 252 US cities as well as 80 international locations. Much of that traffic departs from hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington, DC
United handled 3,546,831 bags over the 12-month period reported. Of that number, 13,647 bags were mishandled, or 3.85 bags out of 1,000, according to the research.
3. Frontier Airlines
3.29 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
Headquartered in Denver, Frontier explains that it is committed to “Low Fares Done Right” and that the company’s employees are “tireless in our efforts to save you money on your flights.” The airline serves approximately 120 destinations in the US, Canada, Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.
Frontier handled 727,451 bags over the reported 12-month period. Of those bags, 2,391 were mishandled, according to the report. That means 3.29 out of 1,000 bags were mishandled.
2. Hawaiian Airlines
2.17 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
Hawaiian Airlines, which began operations in 1929, offers 180 flights each day to the Hawaiian Islands, 16 US mainland cities, and 10 destinations throughout Asia and the Pacific. It was the 10th-largest US airline in 2021, offering 10 million seats, according to Simple Flying.
According to the 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report, Hawaiian mishandled 882 bags over the 12-month period. Since the airline handled 405,902 bags in total, it mishandled 2.17 bags out of 1,000.
1. Allegiant Air
1.96 Mishandled Bags Per 1,000 Bags
Allegiant, which is based in Las Vegas, explains that it “makes leisure travel affordable and convenient” while also offering “low-low fares.” The airline — which is the official airline of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders and is the naming rights partner for Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium — offers nonstop flights to locations throughout the US, as well as service to Canada and Mexico.
Allegiant is also the US airline least likely to mishandle your luggage, according to the 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report. Over the 12-month period studied, Allegiant handled 446,862 bags and just 877 were mishandled. The airline only mishandled 1.96 bags out of 1,000.
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