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5 U.S. Airlines That Lose The Most Luggage: What You Can Do To Prevent It

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There are few things more frustrating than arriving at your destination after a long flight and waiting at the baggage carousel… and waiting… and waiting…

Only for your bags to never arrive because the airline lost your luggage. Nothing puts a damper on a trip quite like all your stuff going missing, and sometimes it can take days for it to be returned to you.

Just thinking about it is stressing me out — lost luggage is basically one of my worst travel fears.

Suitcases on Carousel

So which airlines are most likely to lose your luggage?

Data from the Department of Transportation reveals the worst airlines for lost luggage.

And be sure to read on for my top tips to prevent lost luggage!

The Worst Offender Is…

The worst airline for lost luggage is American Airlines.

According to the data, there are 0.82 lost bags for every 100 bags checked on American Airlines flights.

American Airlines Plane on runway

That doesn't sound like a lot — it's not even one whole bag, but when you consider that there are way more than 100 checked bags on the average flight, and American Airlines flies more than 6,700 flights per day, that's a lot of lost luggage.

Not a great track record for an airline that is supposedly one of the best in the world.

It's also the highest rate of lost luggage by far compared to other airlines. Speaking of which, let's take a look at the next worst offenders for airlines that are likely to lose your luggage.

International airport terminal. Asian beautiful woman with luggage and walking in airport

Other Worst Airlines For Lost Luggage.

The next worst airline for lost luggage is United Airlines, with 0.74 lost bags for every 100 bags checked. That's also a startlingly high figure when it comes to the likelihood of your suitcase disappearing!

Next up is Alaska Airlines, with 0.59 lost bags for every 100 bags checked.

Spirit Airlines follows closely, with a rate of 0.53 lost bags for every 100 bags checked. It's not too surprising to see Spirit Airlines on this list, given that it's one of the most disliked airlines due to its poor customer service, annoying hidden fees, and constant delays and issues.

Spirit airplane flying

Rounding out the top five is JetBlue Airways, with 0.52 lost bags for every 100 bags checked.

Pro Tips To Prevent Lost Luggage

So what can you do to avoid lost luggage? The truth is, even if you check a bag on an airline that's not on the list above, you still run the risk of having your bags mishandled by the airline.

The only foolproof way to prevent lost luggage is not to check any luggage to begin with. I like traveling with carry-on luggage only, and I've been to more than 50 countries and taken hundreds of flights with only a small carry-on suitcase and my one personal item.

A young girl with luggage in an airport

I've been able to take multi-month trips with just a carry-on bag. Traveling carry-on only takes the stress and uncertainty away from the potential of lost luggage.

Another way to reduce the risk of lost luggage is to avoid connecting flights (especially flights with more than one connection!)

If your bags have to be moved around at multiple airports and onto multiple planes, there's a higher chance that they will be mishandled and go missing.

Lost Luggage

Lost luggage is far less likely on a direct flight. So if you must check a bag, try to avoid flights with connections.

You should also always use luggage tags and have your contact info written on them in addition to your address. And be sure to remove any old stickers from your luggage because leaving them on can cause confusion and the misrouting of your bag.

checked baggage carousel at airport with lots of luggage

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This article originally appeared on

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Terry Miler

Saturday 8th of June 2024

Bagging tracking apps aren't always right.

I had an interesting experience during a flight (with two connections) from Idaho to Milan Italy aboard United: I followed my bag using the UAL app. The app showed the bag made it's Denver connection and arrived in Newark on my plane. It didn't show it made the international flight to Italy but I initially thought it was just a slow computer glitch. I kept checking as we crossed the Atlantic but the website kept saying it was still in Newark. I was able to contact UAL while we were in flight (I still don't know how I did that) and they confirmed the bag was still in Newark and would be forwarded to me the next day. It was the first time I'd lost a bag and stressed me out as to how I would cope as the Milan arrival was only an immediate pick up point for onward travel to Switzerland. I was prepared for the worst and was completely surprised when my bag was the first off the carrousel with a tag marked "priority"!

I finally figured out that the scanner missed it as it was being loaded onto my next flight, but not sure I'll trust it in the future.


Sunday 9th of June 2024

@Terry Miler, Glad to hear you were reunited with your bag when you landed and avoided a stressful situation!