Meaningless Mishandled Bag Numbers Plunge in July

Last Updated Sep 15, 2009 11:11 AM EDT

Take a look at July mishandled bag rates and you might be surprised to see how far they've fallen since July of 2008. In July 2008, there were 4.87 mishandled bags per one thousand passengers, but by 2009 that had dropped 18 percent to 3.98.

Every airline saw huge drops except for Alaska which was basically flat - 4.43 to 4.45. So what's going on? Total enplaned passengers dropped from 56.3 million to 54.1 million, so that's not a tremendous difference. But we do know flights are down and load factors are up which should lead to worse handling.

So what is it that's causing things to get better? I'm going with bag fees. Remember, these numbers simply show the number of lost bags per 1,000 passengers. That's a pretty meaningless statistic when you consider that it doesn't take into account the number of bags each passenger checks. The ever-rising bag fees should result in people trying to reduce the number of bags they check.

So until we see a stat showing the number of bags lost per thousand bags checked, this ongoing DOT statistic is pretty worthless.