Rate of lost luggage drops more than 60% over seven years

The rate of lost or damage bags has dropped to seven bags per 1,000 passengers

There is some good news for crowded, fee-hating airline travelers: The rate of lost and damaged luggage has dropped by more than 60% worldwide over the past seven years, thanks to modernized baggage systems.

The rate of mishandled bags dropped from 19 bags per thousand passengers in 2007 to seven bags per thousand in 2014, according to report from SITA, a Geneva-based airline technology company.

The decline comes as the total number of passengers flying worldwide has increased by nearly 40% in the same period, according to industry statistics.

“The great news for the traveling public is that more checked bags are being properly handled largely thanks to these investments and should improve baggage handling even further in 2015,” said Victoria Day, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, the trade group for the nation’s airlines.

U.S.-based airlines have been investing more than $1 billion a month in 2014 on new planes, improved baggage handling system and other enhancements, she said.

But other factors could be at play. Studies have shown that passengers are flying with about 17% fewer bags since airlines began charging checked-bag fees in 2008.

The airlines also have self-serving reasons to invest in modern luggage handling systems: By cutting down on lost or damaged bags, the airline industry has saved $18 billion in the cost of reuniting lost bags with passengers, according to the SITA report.

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