Airlines Are Losing Fewer Bags Thanks to You

Specifically, the wallet part of you

January 18, 2017 9:00 am

Good news from an unlikely source:

Airlines are now less likely to either lose your bags or cancel your flight.

Cause for celebration, right? Kinda’.

Nothing upends a jaunt to the Caribbean like spending that weekend at J.F.K., staring at a departures monitor and hoping for good news. So, yes. No one’s complaining about fewer cancelled flights.

But fewer lost bags? Let’s take a closer look. Airlines are indeed investing in bag-tracking software and other innovations — but anyone who’s chafed at handing over a credit card knows that we’re simply checking bags much less often now. Checked bags might be getting lost less, but overhead compartments are groaning. Even if the record is proportional (i.e. a lower percentage of checked bags is going missing), it’s surely in part because fewer bags are being checked to begin with, which means staff have lower volume to contend with.

Many business travelers won’t feel the pinch — but for families, this new state of affairs means either shelling out $100 or carting everyone’s luggage on and off the plane. Meanwhile, the airlines make a mint.

That’s great news if you’re a shareholder. Less so for the customer, who will continue to pay to pack lightly. Pat yourself on the back for not losing your own luggage, which you’ve been forced to lug around two airports while airlines rake in billions of bucks in checked-bag fees.

While we’re at it, below are some additional problems for the airlines to fix. Wouldn’t you know, they all fall under the “fee” banner: 

  • Change Fees. We routinely accept change fees of $200 — often to do the airline the favor of providing them a last-minute, high-value seat. Could it really cost them that much to process that transaction? And that’s before the fare difference! 
  • Wi-Fi fees. Some airlines are waiving them, so choose wisely. 
  • Seat Selection Fees. Come on: First come (in your fare class — we’re not communists here), first served.  


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