Advances in baggage handling technology have been undermined by natural disasters and flight disruptions, increasing the risk of luggage loss in the world’s airports, according to Australia’s top online travel insurer.
Travel Insurance Direct said luggage loss had increased during 2010 for the first time in three years, due partly to the extensive flight disruptions caused by the Icelandic volcanic eruption in April last year and the widespread blizzards which swept North America and Europe.
The insurer’s General Manager Ian Jackson said almost 30 million bags were mishandled in airports worldwide during 2010, an increase of more than 17 per cent over the previous year.
“Unfortunately for travellers, growing traffic levels at airports worldwide have combined with extraordinary weather events to increase the chances of your luggage going missing,” Mr Jackson said. “Until recently, airports had been making excellent improvements in their baggage handling processes and technology, but luggage loss is now on the increase again.”
The worldwide trend was confirmed recently in the 2011 SITA Baggage Report which found 12.07 bags were mishandled for every thousand airline passengers who travelled during 2010, an increase from 11.38 per thousand the previous year.
Mr Jackson said the results were not surprising given the estimated 300,000 flight cancellations experienced last year, mostly in Europe at the time of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption.
“Fortunately, the majority of mishandled bags were reunited with their owners within 48 hours, but there were still more than a million items lost last year and never seen again,” he said. “That’s more than 2800 disappearances every day, an increase of 18 per cent over the previous year.”
Mr Jackson said lost, damaged and stolen luggage represented the biggest single category of travel insurance claims lodged with Travel Insurance Direct. The insurer offers detailed advice on how to minimise the risk of luggage loss, including 10 lost luggage tips listed on its website.
“Unfortunately there’s nothing a traveller can do about flight disruptions, but there are still several simple measures travellers can take to reduce the chances and impact of lost luggage,” Mr Jackson said. “The most important thing of all is to ensure all luggage is properly labelled and never travel without adequate travel insurance.”
Travel Insurance Direct is Australia’s number one online travel insurer.