News & Opinion | November 21, 2018 9:00 am

Here Are the US Airlines Most and Least Likely to Mishandle Your Luggage

It appears Spirit is actually good at something

By The Editors

If you’re reading this, it’s too late — because your holiday travel is booked, if not currently in progress.

In its latest Air Travel Consumer Report, the Department of Transportation ranked U.S. airlines by what could be the new gold standard: how often they mishandled luggage. And we’d stop reading now if you’re flying American. 

The results are calculated “based on the total number of reports each carrier received from passengers concerning lost, damaged, delayed or pilfered baggage,” from domestic flights only. The airlines included are, for brevity’s sake, those in the top revenue bracket.

So who comes out on top? Remarkably, it’s budget-friendly (and, until today, eternal pariah) Spirit Airlines, with just 1.84 mishandled bags per 1,000. In last place is Envoy Air, with 6.21. Not ringing a bell? The airline is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines. And speaking of, American is the worst offender in terms of major airlines on the list, with 4.34 bags per 1,000 mishandled.

Here are the full rankings (# of mishandled bag reports per 1,000 passengers):

  • Envoy Air: 6.21
  • ExpressJet Airlines: 5.87
  • SkyWest Airlines: 4.69
  • American Airlines: 4.34
  • United Airlines: 3.15
  • Alaska Airlines: 3.09 (combined with Virgin America)
  • Southwest Airlines: 2.90
  • Frontier Airlines: 2.77
  • Hawaiian Airlines: 2.58
  • JetBlue Airways: 1.97
  • Delta Air Lines: 1.94
  • Spirit Airlines: 1.84

Does this mean we recommend flying Spirit until further notice? Not a chance, since these data points don’t include how many bags actually get checked — and if you’re flying Spirit, chances are you’re not checking a bag. Until that gets calculated, we’ll gladly rely on Delta and JetBlue’s close second and third places.

Image via Pixabay