5 Airlines You Shouldn't Trust With Your Luggage

The Department of Transportation’s 2007 Air Travel Consumer Report is out. Here are the 5 airlines with the most baggage handling complaints per customer in 2007. Better luck next year!

5. MESA AIRLINES (operates flights for Delta Airlines, United Airlines, USAirways and Midwest Airlines)

4. SKYWEST AIRLINES (operates flights for United Express, Delta Connection and Midwest Connect)

3. ATLANTIC SOUTHEAST AIRLINES (operated by Delta Airlines)

2. COMAIR (operated by Delta Airlines)

1. AMERICAN EAGLE AIRLINES (operated by American Airlines)

Air Travel Consumer Report (PDF) [DOT]


Edit Your Comment

  1. trecool95 says:

    If that included international, British Airways would top the list.

  2. NeoNess says:

    Does this fall under lost luggage, or overall complaints?

    If overall, I’m surprised Continental isn’t on the list. Most times I ride with them, they completely obliterate my baggage, to the point where it comes back in shambles.

  3. jaydez says:

    I’m Flying from CT to Orance GOunty in March via Delta. I hope they don’t “misplace” my luggage.

  4. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    My wife and I have flown probably 150 legs on Southwest in the last 2-3 years. Net total of 0 lost or delayed bags and 0 damaged bags.

  5. missbheave (is not convinced) says:

    why are they all express carriers? Should that tell us something?

  6. bbbici says:

    This is why i’ve stopped checking luggage.

  7. vr4z06gt says:

    i can vouch for american eagle, 3 out of four times, they have lost my luggage, they are horrible….

  8. Spinfusor says:

    @trecool95: When I flew to Rome from Heathrow, B.A. left the whole plane’s luggage behind.

  9. PinkBox says:

    This is GREAT to hear considering I have a flight on friday. :P

    Honestly though, I’ve flown a good bit over the past few years, and I’ve never had any luggage lost. Here’s hoping that continues this weekend.

  10. TWinter says:

    @missbehave: I think this speaks of poor integration of the express carrier’s operations into those of the larger airlines they serve.

  11. TechnoDestructo says:


    Also most of the parent airlines are notorious for sucking. That should also tell us something.

  12. DeltaPurser says:

    Just for your reference, there is something YOU can do as a traveler to increase your odds of your bags arriving WITH you…

    Sometimes the tags that the agents put on the bags come off as they travel down miles of belts to reach the bagroom. When that tag comes off, there is no way to identify the owner of the bag unless it has a NAME TAG on it… You would be surprised at how often this happens. In addition to attaching one to the outside of your bag, make sure to stick one to the inside as well…

  13. unoriginal says:

    In all my years of traveling I have learned there are just two kinds of luggage: carry-on and lost.

  14. veronykah says:

    I can’t understand WHY people bring so much with them. I had a boyfriend that was a pilot, I got standby passes from him. When you fly standby its not smart to check any luggage. For the past 3 years I haven’t checked a bag, including flying to Europe.
    Why anyone wants to get to the airport, stand in line, leave the airport, stand in line. Is beyond me.
    I check in online, go through security and get on the plane. AND don’t have to get there an hour before!
    When I arrive, I get off the plane and get in the taxi or my waiting ride.

    Maybe other people enjoy hanging out at the airport, I for one do not.

  15. MissPeacock says:

    @veronykah: Perhaps some people are staying longer at their destination than you are. Everyone’s situation is different.

  16. UpsetPanda says:

    I’ve had one lost luggage experience and it was really aggravating because I was in Berlin. And I had packed my favorite boots in my luggage because they wouldn’t fit in my carry-on. Luckily, they delivered the luggage to the hotel and it was fine after that.

    But one thing that stuck out at me was the fact that the ratings were based on complaints…I know that unless I’m meticulous about my packing, I can’t generally tell whether someone’s rifled through my items (without putting that paper in there that says the airport people rifled through your things). And all the jostling bags get going to and from the plane probably mean you wouldn’t be able to tell anyway. So I suppose these complaints have to be lost luggage complaints, not complaints of airline employees going through your stuff.

  17. balthisar says:

    I can second the experience with American Eagle. But my luggage has never been lost, just delayed. And I’ve always been compensated, and I’d say fairly so.

    The problem isn’t that the luggage is lost, the problem is that when the plane is full, not all of the luggage fits in the luggage compartment. The last time this happened, I saw two of our suitcases still sitting in the luggage dolly on the tarmac as we pulled away from the gate!

    Unfortunately, I just plan it happening now, and we distribute our necessities accordingly. Now way to avoid American Eagle when going to BJX.

  18. Rando says:

    4/5 are delta. HMM

  19. matto says:

    I wish these stats were made useful by computing them relative to something like passengers/year per carrier. While the raw numbers are fascinating, knowing which carrier had the highest ratio of complaints per customer would be even better.

  20. B says:

    @matto: These numbers are complaints per customer.

  21. rheath2 says:


    Exactly. My family and I no longer check luggage either.

  22. CurbRunner says:

    Whenever I check-in a piece of luggage, on any airline, I certainly don’t leave anything of value in it. I kind of look at it as though I’m leaving my bag alongside of a busy street curb in a densely populated urban area.
    I then say goodbye to it and make one last mental note of what it looked like.

    Then, and if, I actually find it on the baggage turnstile undamaged, after my flight, I experience an overwhelming feeling of joy that makes my day.

  23. yikz says:

    @missbehave: Most express carriers have very little turnaround time. The most luggage complaints come from people who are booked with 45 minutes or less between a connecting flight, and their luggage doesn’t make the connection. It happens all the time. Your luggage arrives on the next flight, they agree to deliver it to you at the hotel or at your home.
    If you book flights without separation, your luggage can’t be switched in time. People don’t understand this when they book connections. Especially consider this during busy times, or during thunderstorms wherever the plane is coming from or going to. Weather is the number one delay factor.

  24. dantsea says:

    So this confirms that Alaska’s routine where my luggage is delayed by at least an hour every time I fly with them really is personal. Damn. I wonder who I offended at that airline?

  25. Kbomb says:

    Maybe Alaska Air has a personal vendetta against you and me both. I’ve never lost my bag on Alaska, but it often is on the next flight after me.

    Alaska Air lost a lot of my respect when they laid off their own baggage handlers and outsourced to minimum wage mongoloids who specialize in crashing their luggage carts into the plane and not reporting it… until after the plane loses cabin pressure and makes and emergency landing. [www.usatoday.com]

  26. kwsdurango says:

    I second (or third) the British Airways complaints. They are famous for it, especially from Heathrow. They lost my luggage for 10 days on the London/Gatwick – Dubronvik route and it was truly painful tracking it down. I did my own EECB and was ultimately successful. Who knew the airlines have multiple classes of baggage retrieval people? (I sweet talked the secretary to the Executive VP of North American Operations.)

    I also learned something really useful:
    If you get to the boarding gate early enough and the line is not too long, you can ask the attendant to verify that your luggage has indeed been loaded on the plane by having them look at your luggage claim sticker and call down to the luggage people. I did it, with British Airways no less, and felt much better about things afterwards.

    As always it helps to be nice.

  27. PHX602 says:

    Speaking of Delta, they’re apparently “close” to a merger with Northwest.

    Handy airline tip — When one mixes a crappy airline with an even crappier airline, a good airline does not emerge. Nor does a mediocre airline.


  28. DearEditor says:

    Just check a firearm in your luggage; somehow they never lose those bags…

  29. Heyref says:

    @veronykah: I used to (almost) never check bags, particularly when I was going to be gone for only a couple of days. Now with the completely asinine TSA rules, I have to check a bag I formerly carried on or else spend 50 bucks buying new stuff when I get there.

  30. DeltaPurser says:

    @kwsdurango: On a trans oceanic flight with 300 pax, you’re looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of 250-400 bags… Calling the bagroom with a claim sticker number will lead to absolutely nothing. They told you whatever you wanted to hear, but there is absolutely NO WAY to locate your bag among those hundreds of bags by just looking for the claim number. Maybe, and I stress MAYBE, if you give a detailed description of your bag, but even then they will only look for it if it needs to come off the flight… not to make sure it’s on.

  31. Haha…stupid Atlantic Southeast (ASA)…They have lost/misplaced/damaged my luggage more times than I would like to count, and that is just between Atlanta and Gainesville…

    I can’t wait until next year when I’m based in Atlanta, traveling a lot in the southeast…everything will be ASA…super…

  32. Johnny_Blackwell says:

    I never check my luggage. Why wait in line when I can pack up to 2 weeks worth of clothes and have it with me the whole time? Plus after landing you can get on with your trip whil everyone else waits for their bags.

  33. umwolverine says:

    I’ve had one pretty bad experience with my luggage. I was flying NorthWest, and my family checked in 4 bags. We were waiting for them to come around the conveyor belt thing…but only 3 showed up. Then they called my name over the speaker.
    I went to the NWA desk, and there was a luggage worker there and he was holding my bag, it honestly took me 5 seconds to realize that what he was holding was my luggage. It looked like they put it through a shredder. The story was they were putting it onto the cart when unloading the plane, and it fell off and got stuck under the tire and they dragged it across the airport (and it was like 90 degrees outside).
    All of my clothes were either melted together, or smelled like brunt rubber.

    Here’s a pic of the damage: [i259.photobucket.com]

  34. Piro says:

    Can’t remember if it was technically a Comair flight or one operated by Delta proper, but I recently had a bag lost for almost two days. The kicker: It was lost on a non-stop flight from Miami to Tallahassee that I arrived 2 hours early for in Miami.

    How do you lose a bag on a single, connectionless flight between 2 cities in the same damn state?

  35. Paul D says:

    Rome & Milan are reputed to be the two worst airports in Europe for lost luggage.

    I flew from Newark to Paris last summer, changed planes in Rome. My luggage didn’t make it to Paris until 11pm on the last night of my vacation (6 days later). When my bags were finally delivered to the hotel the concierge knew without even asking; he said “ah, you flew through Rome…”

    Fortunately, I got Air France to reimburse me every bit of what I had to spend on clothes and toiletries during my stay. WELL over their arbitrary (and unrealistically low) 100-euro limit.

  36. dvdchris says:

    I actually have never heard of any of these.

  37. BrentNewland says:

    Can’t believe no one’s said this…

    Comair? How about ComCASTair!

  38. Carencey says:

    the USAIRways hub in Philly used to be an absolute black hole of delayed luggage — I once had a connecting flight from Philly to Baltimore, with about 2 hours between flights, and when the flight got into Baltimore, the only bags that were on it were the two that had been loaded when the flight originated in Aruba. they apparently just didn’t feel like putting any bags on that flight, and the baggage agents in Baltimore said that wasn’t unusual at all for Philly. Does anyone know if this has improved in the past year or two?

  39. brokeincollege says:

    Air travel sucks. What else is new?

  40. abz_zeus says:

    @trecool95: BA’s problem is that Heathrow is so old, plus BAA was recently purchased using debt, so the parent company wants to get as much money out of Heathrow as possible.

  41. erratapage says:

    British Airways lost my luggage last year for six weeks. The worst thing about it was the several hours waiting in line at the airport waiting for them to tell me it was okay to go to my hotel. I was so tired and dispirited by that evening that it didn’t even register that the bed and breakfast had lost my reservation.

  42. kwsdurango says:

    @DELTAPURSER: You’re probably right about checking like that on a longer/larger flight, then again, it’s worth a try. When I did it I was on another London/Dubrovnik flight (727/100 passengers). Even so, I was close enough to the staff member making the call to hear both sides of the conversation and indeed someone did verify that my luggage was on the flight.

  43. rep0809 says:

    Recently I had my luggage opened and my black suit jacket STOLEN from my suitcase. American Airlines sent me an email and said if I did not report the loss within 24 hours, TOO BAD. What a crock flying American, part of my trip was also the infamous American Eagle in Texas.