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Baggage Report 2011 Specialists in air transport communications and IT solutions

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Baggage Report 2011

Specialists in air transport communications and IT solutions

SITA Baggage Report 20112

Baggage Report 2011

It has been a difficult year for all those involved in the air transport industry’s response to the great logistical challenge of making sure that over two billion passengers’ bags get on the right planes and are delivered to the right carousels in reasonable time for collection by their owners.

Airlines, airports and ground handlers respond to this task with the minimum of fuss but all were put to a severe test last year as passenger volumes rose for the first time in two years and nature gave the industry two major obstacles in the form of severe winter weather at both the start and end of the year, and a volcanic eruption in between. Over 300,000 flights were cancelled causing the worst disruption to aviation since World War II.


What is a mishandled bag?1

A mishandled bag is a report of a delayed, damaged and/or pilfered bag, which is recorded by either an airline or its handling company on behalf of the passenger and which is handled as a claim.

2010 Baggage facts-at-a-glance* 2.44 billion enplaned passengers

(2.21 billion)

29.44 million mishandled bags (25.03 million)

12.07 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers (11.38)

Total cost of mishandled baggage to the ATI: $2.94 billion ($2.5 billion)

* Corresponding figures for 2009 appear in brackets

Nonetheless, the air transport industry responded remarkably well. It is clear that improvements in technology, the increasing deployment of baggage sortation systems and IATA’s Baggage Improvement Program are having an impact on keeping down the numbers of bags mishandled. While there was a rise in the absolute number of bags mishandled, this had to be expected in the circumstances. However, the long-term trend shows the industry is driving down overall mishandling rates as it brings knowledge, experience and technology to bear on the problem.

More needs to be done, not only for the convenience of passengers but also for the sake of the airlines which lose a significant amount of money each year because of mishandled baggage, mainly

related to the cost of getting it back to its owner. SITA, as the global operator of the tracking and tracing service for lost baggage continues to play its part, innovating and bringing new improved baggage management solutions to the market like BagSmart which we have already tested successfully at London Heathrow with the Star Alliance. It will be widely available in 2011 and is the first web-based application in the air transport industry that can warn of potential baggage mishandlings before they occur.

Francesco ViolanteCEO, SITA

About SITA’s Baggage Report 2011Since 2005, SITA has produced an annual baggage report, which is designed to offer all Air Transport Industry (ATI) stakeholders the latest facts, figures and trends related to global baggage processing and management. In preparing this report, SITA works in close collaboration with industry partners – including the International Air Transport

Association (IATA) – to ensure its facts, figures and analysis are as complete and accurate as possible. With help from these essential insights, ATI stakeholders can work together to improve baggage management all around the world – generating savings for the industry, while improving the overall passenger experience.1 WorldTracer database 2011

SITA Baggage Report 2011 3

Baggage Report 2011

SITA Baggage Report 20114

Baggage Report 2011

Baggage Report 2011

SITA Baggage Report 2011 5


Executive Summary 6

Baggage mishandling by region 8

Winter bites and a volcano erupts 9

Tackling transfer baggage 10

Trends watch 12

Less check-in baggage but more revenue 14

Beating the baggage blues at Boston 15

The Intelligent Airport and baggage management 16

US/EU baggage statistics 18

Conclusion 19

About SITA 19

SITA Baggage Report 2011

Baggage Report 2011



Mishandling rate went up 6% globally after successive years of decline; weather had major impact in 2010.

In 2010, the Air Transport Industry (ATI) reported 29.44 million mishandled bags globally – 12.07 mishandled bags for every 1,000 passengers2. This marks an increase of 6.06% in the mishandling rate over the previous year and the first such increase in three years. The main reason is undoubtedly the increase in passenger traffic as a fragile recovery got underway and IATA member airlines recorded $16 billion worth of profits.

This return to profit was mitigated by the $2.94 billion which lost and mishandled luggage is estimated to have cost the airlines in 2010. The mishandling increase also comes against the backdrop of record numbers of flight cancellations due largely to the Icelandic volcanic eruption and severe weather particularly in the northern hemisphere. The year saw a small increase in the percentage of bags which are never recovered.

2 WorldTracer database 2010













2007 2008 2009 2010

Mishandled bags and passenger numbers:











s (m



Passengers Mishandled bags

Cost of mishandled bags per enplaned passengers:










02007 2008 2009 2010

Baggage Report 2011

SITA Baggage Report 2011 7

Why the increase in mishandled baggage? In 2008, as the ATI began to feel the effects of the global recession, passenger numbers started to stagnate. This downturn together with technology improvements in baggage handling systems, the introduction of baggage fees, and the arrival of IATA’s Baggage Improvement Program, contributed to the first significant drop in mishandled baggage after five consecutive years of increases. The 20% drop in mishandling rates in 2008 was followed by a further decline of 23.8% in 2009. In all, this amounted to a total improvement in mishandling rates of more than 40% since 2007 – 17.4 million bags which were not delayed – which translates into savings of $1.7 billion for the industry.

Despite the record number of passengers carried by the airlines last year as aviation’s fragile recovery got underway, the ATI has largely held on to the improvements made during those two watershed years of 2008 and 2009. It can be expected that in any year where there is a significant increase in traffic, there will be some increase also in baggage mishandling but the industry has succeeded in keeping the 2010 increase significantly below the levels recorded in previous years of passenger growth such as 2007. Apart from the increased numbers of passengers returning to the skies last year, there were also a number of other factors which contributed to the upturn in mishandlings.

Nobody can say for certain if there was a drop in investment in airport baggage systems at some locations during the recession-hit years of 2008 and 2009 but the industry has continued to put up an unrelenting fight against baggage mishandling through investment wherever possible. IATA’s Baggage Improvement Program has also brought airlines and airports together to tackle the issue through improved processes and investments. In the 2009 Airport IT Trends Survey3, 32% of respondents reported that the main obstacle to achieving their IT Strategy was lack of investment / reduced budgets but at the same time 40% listed baggage processing and management as a high priority. A good example of this determination is Aeroporti di Roma which lowered mishandling rates last year by almost 40%.

Mother Nature provided the industry with another notable challenge on the logistics front last year and stirred concerns about the impact climate change could have on aviation with the rise in extreme weather events worldwide as Governments struggle to agree new limits on carbon emissions. Overall, there were an estimated 175,000 flight cancellations in Europe4 and almost 113,000 scheduled flights were cancelled from the 40 busiest airports in North America5. The follow-on effects for baggage management were significant as flights were delayed and connections missed. Aviation in Europe was most severely impacted by April’s Icelandic

volcanic ash cloud. Severe winter weather in December impacted both the Eastern sea board of the United States and much of mainland Europe. Asia’s top carriers were affected to a lesser degree, recording 18,650 cancellations among the top 23 airlines for the year6.

“In 2009 Aeroporti di Roma embarked on an airport development project to enhance capacity and improve customer service. We decided that it was important to make investments in our infrastructure and systems even during a down economy, to ensure we would be able to accommodate adequately both current peak and future traffic growth. One of the projects included an upgrade of the baggage management system; to automate and integrate various systems in an effort to reduce mishandled baggage claims and improve the services for both our tenants and passengers.

Although the project is still in implementation and we are refining the processes, we are encouraged to see approximately 40% drop in mishandled bag reports filed between 2009 and 2010.”

Elia Pistola, Executive Vice President

Aviation & Security, Aeroporti di Roma.

YearTotal passengers (bn)

Total bags mishandled (m)

Mishandledbags / 1,000passengers

Bags damaged /pilfered per 1,000 passengers

Total cost to the industry (bn USD)

Cost mishandled bags per passenger (USD)

2007 2.25 – 42.4 – 18.86 – 0.57 3.80 – 1.69

2008 2.27 0.89% 32.8 -22.64% 14.28 -24.28% 0.32 2.96 -22.11% 1.30

2009 2.21 -2.64% 25.0 -23.78% 11.38 -20.31% 0.40 2.50 -15.54% 1.13

2010 2.44 10.41% 29.4 17.60% 12.07 6.06% 0.43 2.94 17.60% 1.20

Source: WorldTracer database 2010



5 2010 Year-end Report on Airport and Airline On-time Performance

6 2010 Year-end Report on Airport and Airline On-time Performance

SITA Baggage Report 2011

Baggage Report 2011





There is some correlation between the impact of these events and a recent detailed study undertaken by the IATA Baggage Improvement Program using SITA WorldTracer baggage data7. WorldTracer is a baggage tracing and management system used by over 450 airlines and ground handlers which provides continuous tracing for up to 100 days and maintains a global data repository of baggage claims that are pending, settled or closed as a result of a passenger’s bag being delayed or damaged. It allowed IATA to conduct a unique study based on one year of mishandling data (October 2009 to September 2010) at various levels including:

at worldwide level and an airline level for all airports where the airline operates

at an airline level for all airports where the airline operates

at an airline level at one single airport where the airline operates

at one airport for all airlines operating there

Baggage mishandlingby region

An examination of mishandling distribution across regions for all airports found that the main two regions where baggage improvement at airports should be focused are Europe and the USA, the two regions which were also worst-affected by severe winter weather and the Icelandic volcano. IATA qualified its findings with the observation: “There are many differences in the way that WorldTracer is used by airlines, and this can result in some data differences. For instance, in the USA, many airlines do not open a WorldTracer file immediately and most of these mishandlings are solved very quickly. This results in a lower reported mishandling in WorldTracer. Some airlines have a procedure to record the transfer hub as the default station for the mishandling which can skew the data.”

Nonetheless, the findings were much the same even when the sample size was reduced to the world’s top 80 airports. The study also looked at the linkages between mishandling rates and defined airport performance which is based on the ratio of mishandlings

at the airport out of total passenger volume at the airport. The worst two regions in terms of performance are Europe and Africa, followed by the Americas (excluding the USA). Europe, of course, contains some of the world’s busiest airport hubs and suffered the most as a result of the volcanic ash cloud with over 100,000 flight cancellations, and was also impacted by severe winter weather.

Last year’s Airport IT Trends and Airline IT Trends surveys8 found airport and airline business confidence somewhat restored. For the majority of airports in 2010, IT&T budgets increased, as it did for 44% of airlines. The spending outlook for 2011 is also positive with the majority of airports and airlines expecting a budget increase. Baggage processing and management remains a significant priority for 33% of airports and 41% of airlines.








US The Americas



Europe Africa Middle East/North Africa

CIS North Asia Asia Pacific

Number of mishandling occurrence distribution in %

Mishandled distribution for all global airports by region

Source: 2010 IATA

7 Baggage Improvement Program - Airport Baggage Performance

8 Airport IT Trends Survey 2010; Airline IT Trends Survey 2010

Baggage Report 2011

SITA Baggage Report 2011 9

It was the warmest year on record according to the World Meteorological Organization7, and 2010 was also the year when aviation’s vulnerability to severe weather linked to climate change, was exposed on an unprecedented scale. Weather and the Icelandic volcanic eruption together meant it was the worst year for flight cancellations since World War II. The impact was obvious on delayed baggage particularly as a result of the bad weather which hit in January and again in December, two of the worst months for baggage mishandling outside of the busy northern hemisphere summer vacation season, according to WorldTracer.

Abnormal winterDid we witness in 2010 a clear indication of what disruption climate change could bring to the air transport industry? Surface air temperatures over land were above normal across most parts of the world. Only limited land areas had below-normal temperatures in 2010, including Northern and Western Europe and the Southeast United States. The world witnessed extreme Asian summer monsoon rains resulting in record floods in Pakistan, summer heat waves in Russia, heavy rains and flooding in Indonesia and Australia. However, the biggest impact on aviation was undoubtedly caused by the abnormal winter in many parts of the northern hemisphere.

Winter bites and a volcano erupts

In fact, the aviation year was bookended by severe winter weather on both sides of the Atlantic. Weather was the cause of 40% of all National Aviation System flight delays in the United States during the first three months of the year8. On the other side of the Atlantic the low cost carrier, Ryanair noted the impact on its financial results caused by more than 3,000 flight cancellations in the last three months of the year compared with 1,400-plus cancellations during the whole of the previous fiscal year9.

London Heathrow was closed for most of the last weekend before Christmas because of snow, forcing BA to cancel 2,000 flights10. On Christmas Eve, December 24, EUROCONTROL reported there were only 17,013 flights compared to the normal 22,000 flights11 due to bad weather. December 2010 was the worst month of the year for baggage mishandling and in 23% of cases it was reported in WorldTracer as a weather-related incident.

Ash cloud spreadsOn Wednesday, April 14, an ash cloud spread out west and south from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland resulting in the progressive closure of much of European airspace. The first period of disruption was the worst and lasted until Friday, April 23, causing over 100,000 flight cancellations, innumerable missed connections and disruption to the lives of over ten million passengers12. Transfer baggage

mishandling rate dropped during the month as flights were cancelled but the percentage of mishandlings linked to meteorological / airport conditions was a relatively high 8%. The ash cloud returned intermittently between May 4 and 17, leading to several thousand more flight cancellations and a spike in the transfer baggage mishandling rate. Apart from Iceland, the worst-affected countries were Finland, Ireland and the UK which all saw a 90% reduction in their traffic. It was a European-wide crisis with global impact.

Impact on baggageOverall, the impact on baggage of severe weather and volcanic ash was clear in the mishandling statistics with the percentage of bags delayed due to weather and other factors almost doubling to 10% from the 5% to 6% recorded over the previous five years (see 2010 WorldTracer Statistics, p.11). Not surprising given that worldwide there were over 300,000 flights cancelled during the year.







SITA Baggage Report 201110

Transfer baggage mishandling accounted for 51% of all cases of mishandling last year. Industry focus on the issue has intensified in recent years. IATA’s Baggage Improvement Program (BIP) aims to cut mishandling in half, saving the industry $1.9 billion, with BIP teams visiting 80 of the top airports by the end of 2012. This year they will achieve a total of 60 airport diagnostic visits and have 70 airports participating in the BIP self-help program. After each diagnostic visit airlines have two months to agree on an action plan from the solutions proposed in the report. An agreement is then formalized with the sponsor airline and IATA.

There have been some impressive outcomes. Typical of the problems identified were the following:

Tackling transfer baggage

1. “Unknown” tagsAmong the top 80 airports where most of the mishandling problems occur, up to 15% of mishandled baggage can be classified as “unknown” in the Baggage Information System the first time they are processed, which means that there was no incoming Baggage Source Message (BSM) received. The consequence is the baggage cannot be sorted automatically and must be read by an agent who then assigns the bag to the right carousel or chute. This baggage will remain unknown by the Baggage Reconciliation System (BRS) when trying to load it on board the aircraft. Actions taken are to train check-in agents to correctly perform a thorough check-in transaction; ask the passenger for their baggage claim tag when they arrive at the connecting

check-in counter, and fill in the correct Licence Plate Code(s) in the passenger file; identify the outstations and airlines that trigger “unknown” tags because of check-in mistakes and report to IATA for follow up. There has been a notable decrease in the number of “unknown” tags and in some cases this has led to a 5% reduction of mishandled bags.

Once again this highlights the importance of having a track and trace solution in place to improve baggage management performance. A shared data base with track and trace functionality means information is available simultaneously where it is needed.

Early Bag Storage

inbound transfer bags join process


Tracking (Departure & Arrival)


Arrival/Claim Unload

Check-in Screening


Transport Sorting Make-up Loading

A typical bag’s journey

Baggage Report 2011

SITA Baggage Report 2011 11

2. Mishandling at an inbound stationAn important percentage of baggage declared in WorldTracer as mishandled at a busy airport is often in fact mishandled elsewhere (i.e. not the one responsible for taking the passenger to the final destination) and not rushed on to the next available flight. The lost and found agents are informed they have to be more precise in filling the delayed baggage files e.g. the complete original routing which allows determination of where exactly the bag was mishandled. This provides a more realistic picture of mishandling rates at outstations which can then be addressed.

3. Monitoring the flow of departing baggageIn several busy airports bags can be delivered to the apron within the last ten minutes before departure but due to lack of coordination with the ramp agent the holds can already be closed. Where the extent of the problem justifies such a measure, IATA recommends that a dedicated position be created to monitor the flows of baggage on the ten “real-time” most critical flights. This person monitors critical baggage and keeps the ramp agents informed. This has resulted in reduced numbers of baggage being refused on the tarmac and a 5% reduction in mishandled baggage at certain airports.

When bags never arrive

2010 saw a slight increase in the numbers per 1,000 passengers for bags which were never recovered. The mishandling rate was 0.43 unrecovered bags for every 1,000 passengers compared with 0.4 for every 1,000 passengers in 2009 which saw lower volumes of passengers. Some lost bags are never matched with an existing claim – and are therefore held as unclaimed; in exceptional cases bags are stolen.

See The Intelligent Airport and baggage management section on page 16 for details of SITA’s BagSmart solution, a new web-based Interline Baggage Transfer Solution which warns airlines of mishandlings before they even occur.

2010 WorldTracer Statistics

Transfer Baggage Mishandling

Failed to Load

Ticketing Error/Bag Switch/Security/Other

Airport/Customs/Weather/ Space-Weight Restriction*

Loading/Offloading Error

Tagging Error

Arrival Station Mishandling








* volcanic ash / adverse weather Europe

Mishandled bags: 12.07 Lost/stolen etc: 0.43 Average time etc: 1.72 days

Baggage Report 2011

SITA Baggage Report 201112

Less baggage checked in One of the most noticeable trends to emerge in recent years from the SITA Baggage Report has been the decline in the average number of bags per delayed baggage file opened on WorldTracer. For 2010 the number is down to 1.35 compared to 1.47 in 2005. This is a further indication that people are checking in less luggage principally because of airline baggage fees. The ATW/SITA Passenger Self-Service Survey 201013 (PSS 2010) also found a decline to 70.4% in the percentage of passengers with bags to check-in at seven of the world’s leading airports14. This is the third year in a row that the percentage has dropped: in 2007 it was 82% and in 2009, 75.7%. The difference is most marked in airports where there are baggage fees.

Trends watch

Impact of bags on self-service check-inThe travelling public is warming to solutions that will make it easier to check in a bag but a bag to check-in is still cited as the main reason for not using self-service check-in when available by 47% of surveyed passengers.

To some degree, continued growth in the adoption and use of airport self-service technology now depends on the ability of passengers to tag their bags and drop them off without waiting in line. About 70% of interviewed passengers in the PSS 2010 would tag their own bag if they could at the beginning of their journey and this trend is growing; 25% of PSS 2010 survey respondents at Sao Paulo printed their own bag tags.

The chart below from the PSS 2010 outlines the main reasons for not using self-service when survey respondents had a bag to check-in.

Passengers want to manage their bagsThe demand for more self-service options including providing the ability for the passenger to do their own reporting of delayed baggage is driving the development of innovative products. SITA is responding to this with new passenger-facing self-service options for WorldTracer, the industry’s main baggage tracking and tracing service. New solutions to support self-service reporting of delayed bags on a passenger’s mobile phone are already in the pipeline. SITA is currently working with major airlines to allow the passenger to self-report their mishandled baggage, via an internet web portal. The new services are in addition to the already launched self-service baggage recovery kiosk.

13 ATW/SITA Passenger Self-Service Survey 2010

14 Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, Frankfurt, Beijing, Mumbai, Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, Domededevo – Moscow. The decline in the percentage of passengers with bags to check in is at least partly attributable to the inclusion of Beijing International Airport in the survey for the first time as 91% of survey respondents there were on a short-haul flight.

Reason for not using self-service with a bag to check in:Weight average

No value in self-service if have to drop off bag at a desk

Too complicated with self-service

Not possible with self service

Increase risk of baggage mishandling





Baggage Report 2011


LF Wade International Airport Bermuda last year became the first airport in the world to deploy the new WorldTracer kiosk uniquely designed to assist people who experience baggage delays as passengers worldwide express a desire to be more in control of their own bag management.

This business decision is validated by PSS 2010 findings that 66% of passengers would file a delayed bag claim at a kiosk to avoid queuing to see an agent, an increase over the previous year’s 48%. Very positive attitudes towards using baggage claim kiosks were recorded in Sao Paulo (90%), Beijing (76%) and Mumbai (76%). SITA is to start manufacturing kiosks in Brazil to meet the airport and airline demand in Latin America.

Mobile tracing coming soon The popularity of mobile devices will soon start to impact how airline and ground staff respond to passengers waiting for delayed baggage in the arrivals hall. Ground staff will be able to use WorldTracerWeb Mobile to complete lost baggage claims, forward bags, or process delayed and found bags, scanning tags and adding to the WorldTracer baggage inventory. It will allow staff to deal more efficiently with passengers and initiate a Delayed Baggage Report while in the arrivals area.

WorldTracerWeb Mobile should increase passenger satisfaction by shortening the time spent on the reporting process; provide staff with access to flight schedules to facilitate the efficient forwarding of delayed bags; and support the use of a hip-mounted printer for “on-the-spot” tagging and expedite handling of delayed baggage.

Off-airport check-in and bag-drop The technology behind the self-service revolution in the air transport industry continues to drive improvements in how passengers manage their bags, particularly the provision of off-airport check-in and bag-drop.

Though there are still many hurdles to be overcome around logistics and security, there is great passenger interest in off-airport check-in and bag drop-off. A free service would interest 75% of PSS 2010 respondents but only 34% overall would be willing to pay for it. Such a service is more valued among travellers at Johannesburg and Beijing where 67% and 52% respectively would be willing to pay for it. Among frequent flyers (10+ round trips per year) 43% would be willing to pay for the service.

Airline plans to improve baggage management by 2013 include the following15:

Provide off-airport processing of passengers and baggage

Offer unassisted bag-drop locations (no agent)

Provide kiosks to report lost baggage

Enable lost baggage reporting and tracking on passengers’ mobile devices

Send baggage receipts direct to passengers’ mobile phones






These are all significant steps in empowering passengers while at the same time enabling airlines and airports to save on overall operating costs to boost efficiency.15

Baggage Report 2011

SITA Baggage Report 2011

SITA Baggage Report 201114

In a worst case scenario, lack of clarity about baggage fees can lead to upset passengers and unruly scenes such as those on board a packed Ryanair flight to Belgium from Lanzarote earlier this year. The police were called and the entire aircraft had to be off-loaded partly as a result of a dispute about fees for oversize cabin baggage16. Ryanair has since posted a tutorial on YouTube on how to pack light.

Automated baggage rulesThe situation in relation to check-in baggage should improve as a result of an initiative on Automated Baggage Rules (ABR) due to be launched in 2011 by IATA and Airline Tariff Publishing Company (ATPCO)17 as a result of all the world’s airlines providing their baggage rules to ATPCO late last year.

The ABR has come into being as a result of many airlines defining their own baggage allowances and charges which in turn mean that travel agents, check-in agents and interline partners are often unable to correctly assess carrier baggage policies, resulting in inconsistent information to the passengers and lost revenue for the airlines.

An ABR solution will enable airlines to file their own baggage allowance and charges electronically to a centralized database. The benefits for airlines are expected to be increased revenues as a result of baggage rules being applied correctly through all sales channels; more efficient baggage handling at check-in; fewer disputes between airlines; and a baggage policy that is clear to passengers who can make more informed decisions about what baggage to carry, and a smoother check-in process.

Less check-in baggage but more revenue

Important ancillary revenue source for airlinesTo be successful, the ABR solution needs to be embedded within reservations, pricing and ticketing systems as well as departure control systems. Almost 90% of the world’s airlines carrying 98.3% of the total passenger volume are committed to using the new system. This is hardly surprising given that baggage fees now generate approximately $3 billion annually just for the top 20 US airlines. That is a considerable portion of the estimated $22.6 billion which airline ancillary revenue brought in worldwide in 201018.

An analysis done by AirlineForecasts looking at the 12 month period ending June 2010 found that bag fees account on average for 3.6% of passenger revenue for the top 20 US airlines19.

Network carriersBaggage fees may have been introduced by low-cost carriers but it is clear now that they have become a very important source of ancillary revenue for many of the large network carriers as well. In a year-on-year comparison using US Department of Transportation figures, baggage fee revenues have been climbing steadily since 2007 when they delivered a modest $464.2 million. The billion dollar barrier was broken in 2008 ($1.15 billion) and fees more than doubled in 2009 to $2.73 billion.

Airlines are becoming more innovative in how to generate revenue from baggage. The proud pioneer of ancillary revenue, Ryanair, even took to selling Samsonite-branded carry-on compliant luggage from its website20. Air Asia X generates ancillary revenue in excess of $20 per passenger with online a la carte booking activity, and more than 80% of its passengers pre-pay baggage fees21.

Travel lightBaggage fees also act as an incentive for passengers to travel light. Ryanair’s full year results for March 31, 2010 showed that despite a 14% increase to 66 million passengers over the reporting period, ancillary revenues rose at the lower rate of 11%. Ancillaries were lower due to a decline in average spend per passenger “primarily due to lower excess baggage revenues22.” Ancillaries account for 22% of the company’s overall revenues of almost 33 billion. Airlines carrying fewer bags can reduce fuel costs, and this is a consideration when the industry is on the receiving end of volatility in the price of oil. Every ten-dollar swing in the price of oil costs the industry $3.2 billion for the top 13 airlines, according to one analyst23.


17 ABR website:

18 Amadeus Guide to Ancillary Revenue by IdeaWorks



21 Amadeus Guide to Ancillary Revenue by Ideaworks



Baggage Report 2011

US Airways is working on a new concept which foresees eliminating the manual task of filling out the reroute information performed by the agent at the gate or at any point where the passenger is rerouted. Information will be sent automatically to the bag room when any change to the passenger PNR is made.

One key issue tackled at Boston was a problem which can arise at any busy US airport hub. Some international inbound transfer passengers do not know, or forget that they are supposed to retrieve their bags at the arrival carousel to be re-injected into the system after customs check. Bags are left behind in Boston customs hall. Part of the solution is to make onboard announcements and frequent airline agent announcements in the customs hall. This is a typical issue impacting all airlines, and in all such cases there is a need for the airport authority, customs and airlines to work closely together.

By the close of 2010, BIP teams had visited 46 airports and the total number of airports participating in the self-help program went up to 27.

“As I got to work the other day and opened up my e-mail I learned that US Airways has for the third month in a row scored number one among the “Big Five” hub-and-spoke network airlines in baggage performance in the US Department of Transportation, Mishandled Baggage September report. I am extremely proud that Boston has played a large part in leading the company to reduce the number of bags lost out of our particular station.”

Joanne Hendry, US Airways Fleet Service Agent

SITA Baggage Report 2011 15

Boston Logan International Airport offers non-stop service to 103 destinations including 32 international destinations. US Airways and its partners operate 100 daily flights out of Boston. An IATA Baggage Improvement Program (BIP) team spent five days at the airport, reviewing baggage processes and infrastructure24. The BIP team proposed 19 solutions, of which 16 were selected by US Airways for implementation last year. Five key solutions were the following:

Train check-in agents to rigorously apply cut-off time rules for baggage acceptance at check-in and ensure airline acceptance times are respected in case of passenger rerouting

Use of a baggage reconciliation system

Control of the delivery of local baggage

Reinforce communications for international transfer passengers

Reinforce the role of collaboration between airlines and all stakeholders involved to better manage interlining

The end result was a 30% reduction in mishandled bags out of Boston.

The most valuable solution in the IATA BIP toolkit is the introduction of baggage tracking, especially the introduction of arrival bag scanning as this can confirm that a bag was actually delivered to an airport. The general increase in tracking has greatly improved baggage visibility, especially in the USA where all major carriers have introduced comprehensive baggage tracking projects. US Airways are working on further functionality for Boston.

The use of handheld scanners drastically reduces the amount of mixed bag errors. The baggage scanning system records baggage loaded on the aircraft and

Beating the baggageblues at Boston

notifies the loader if the bag loaded should not be on the aircraft. Such tracking prevents the loading of bags onto the wrong aircraft. The principle is the same for the unloading process: all unloaded bags are scanned and the handheld scanner vibrates and rings to prevent the unloading of a “through bag”.

Agent training played a significant part in improving the mishandling rates at Boston. This included offers of tours of the bag room to explain how a baggage system works. Read rates are increased by ensuring baggage labels are straight and visible, damage is reduced by using tubs correctly and baggage jams are prevented by tidying straps away and placing bags with wheels facing up.

The bag room tour proved particularly beneficial in helping the agents understand the complexity of the baggage handling environment, and the challenges and the impact of not following procedures. Ticket counter agents realized the importance of not checking-in passengers late or, if they do check in late, to communicate this immediately to the bag room and to use tubs for specific baggage types. The main benefit of the baggage room induction was that the number of bags left behind was considerably reduced.

Another problem is generated when a check-in agent at the transfer desk or at the gate does not take into account the minimum acceptance time required to reroute a passenger and his bags, resulting in bags left behind. A similar result can be expected if the agent does not verify whether or not the passenger checked-in bags at the point of origin. If the passenger has not checked-in bags, he can be rerouted even when this infringes the minimum acceptance time required for handling bags. The information is not always communicated, or not communicated in time, to the baggage management staff.


Baggage Report 2011

SITA Baggage Report 201116

“Ensuring that the baggage transfer between member carriers works flawlessly is one of our key targets at Star Alliance. In order to further improve our service delivery, we are constantly exploring the use of new technologies. Together with SITA we participated in a pilot at London-Heathrow with a new web-based Interline Baggage Transfer Solution (IBTS). This industry first system uses existing baggage messages to track the bag from origin, through the transfer process, and on to the final destination. It tracks the progress of the bag along the entire journey, even within the baggage handling systems, and warns of potential baggage mishandlings before they occur. The system also suggests potential solutions based on the situation at hand. This is definitely a development we will continue to monitor and evaluate for our needs.”

Lee Hock Lye, Vice President Products & Services,

Star Alliance25

The Intelligent Airport andbaggage management

SITA provides the industry’s main tracking and tracing service for lost baggage through WorldTracer and the world’s only global baggage message distribution service, BagMessage, which handled over a billion Baggage Information Messages (BIMs) in 2010 for the first time, across 170 airports and 208 baggage systems allowing 532 airlines to track and monitor the loading of baggage onto aircraft. No other IT provider is more keenly aware of the emerging needs of an industry which needs to always be on top of one of the great logistical challenges of our times: how to move some two billion items of luggage around the world every year with a minimum of disruption to airlines and passengers.

Looking to the future, SITA is developing new solutions which help airlines to go beyond half-measures when it comes to self-service bag management. The annual SITA/ATW Passenger Self-Service survey carried out across the world’s busiest hubs reminds us constantly of where the obstacles are when it comes to checking-in baggage. What it all boils down to is a widespread demand by passengers for the right to tag their own bags. Hence the decision by SITA to equip its ultra modern S3 check-in kiosk with a bag tag printer for airports which can meet the bag drop needs of such passengers.

Self-tagging with assisted bag drop is in operation in several airports around the world and has increased throughput of passengers by 50%. Bag drop processing can take as little as 15 seconds.

Unassisted bag drop on the horizonThe new frontier in bag management is the provision of world-class solutions enabling unassisted bag drop beyond flagship locations such as Amsterdam and Zurich where it is currently being tried and tested. Unassisted bag drop can be as simple as scanning a boarding pass and issuing a receipt as the bag is dropped off.

SITA is now working with bag drop specialists to develop a single customer touch point which will integrate check-in, bag tag printing, excess luggage payment, and bag drop all at one place. It will have a smaller footprint than a standard check-in desk and allow common-use by several airlines.

In the past, efforts at bag drop implementation have been time-consuming and hampered by space restrictions, complicated rules on excess baggage and lack of an industry standard for self-tagging.

With the recent IATA agreement on Self-Tagging Recommended Practice the way is now clear for the industry to make real progress in this area. Self-service bag drop counters can work 24/7 allowing increased flexibility on check-in times and leading to more shopping and leisure time for passengers.

25 Adria Airways, Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Brussels Airlines, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAM Airlines, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Air India, Avianca-TACA, Copa Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 21,000 daily flights to 1,160 airports in 181 countries.

Baggage Report 2011

SITA Baggage Report 2011 17

Solutions to reduce mishandling ratesAs already mentioned, IATA’s BIP Programme identified transfer bags arriving at the transfer airport with no BSM, (Baggage Source Message), as a major headache for many hub airports which pushes up their mishandling rates. It usually results in a lot of manual bag encoding, missed connections or bags left behind on sortation belts. SITA will launch BagConnect in 2011 which allows the generation of a “pseudo-BSM” to be sent to the transfer airport in order to allow the bag to be sorted to the correct flight.

SITA’s vision of the intelligent airport is built around real-time information sharing between airport stake holders using existing data. It is launching a decision support system called BagSmart in 2011 which will have a significant impact on mishandling rates by checking real-time Baggage Information Messages against real-time flight messages. BagSmart will also take into account the airline/airport “local rules” to determine whether a bag is at risk of becoming a mishandled bag, and will provide a processing recommendation to mitigate the risk. It has already been successfully tested as the industry’s first Interline Baggage Transfer Solution (IBTS) with one of the world’s leading airline groups, the Star Alliance, at London Heathrow.

Mobility – a game changerThe mobility revolution is combining with two maturing technologies and trends - self-service and collaborative decision-making - in a way that will allow airports to deliver a range of services which they could never aspire to before, either in terms of volume or sophistication.

The smart phone is the latest addition to the self-service toolbox and has yet to be fully exploited. The maturity of a number of mobile technologies coupled with the rapid adoption of smart devices now make it possible for the industry to give passengers even more control over their journey. Passengers will want to use their own devices e.g. smart phones, to navigate through the airport processes from check-in to boarding, from bag drop to shopping guides.

The connected passenger with a smart phone will be able to take even tighter control of all the key steps in the journey including receiving baggage receipts and other flight and baggage information direct to their hand-held device. As airports seek to respond to passengers’ demands for improvements in the airport experience, there is clear recognition that the game changer is mobility. 70% of airports plan to offer mobile services by 2013. By 2015, 50% of mobile phones will be GPS-enabled. The arrival of 4G will mean permanent connectivity.

A digital world is on its way when airports and airlines will be able to leverage a passenger’s location because of ever-present personal-area networking and sensor technologies, such as Bluetooth and RFID, wireless LAN, and 4G products. Here’s just one example of how it might assist in pre-empting baggage problems for a passenger.

Airlines will be able to make more real-time, informed decisions on whether to load or off-load bags based on the passenger’s whereabouts. A passenger who is not at the gate will be contacted directly via their mobile device and instructed to make their way to the gate for boarding. However, if advanced analytics predict that a passenger will not be able to board on time (based on their location), the passenger and bags will be automatically rebooked allowing the flight to depart on-time.

This scenario is a double-win for both airlines and passengers, recognizing the impact which baggage can have on on-time performance which is what passengers, airlines and airport operators all value most.

Baggage Report 2011

SITA Baggage Report 201118

United StatesIn the United States, the number of missing bags on arrival rose from 2002 to 2007, but then fell sharply in 2008

US/EU baggage statistics

Year Enplaned passengersBags delayed on arrival

Missing bags per 1,000 passengers

Percentage increase

2002 471,352,000 1,807,977 3.84 –

2003 524,515,000 2,199,011 4.19 +9.1%

2004 575,364,000 2,822,364 4.91 +17.2%

2005 589,675,000 3,562,132 6.04 +23.0%

2006 605,064,000 4,070,614 6.73 +11.4%

2007 624,700,000 4,403,741 7.05 +4.8%

2008 595,818,000 3,135,946 5.26 -25.4%

2009 561,357,000 2,193,711 3.91 -25.7%

2010 571,379,173 2,041,241 3.57 -8.7%

YearMissing bags per1,000 passengers

2004 13.7

2005 14.1

2006 15.7

2007 16.6

2008 14.1

2009 10.9

2010 12.6

and 2009 to return to a level very close to when comprehensive records began in 2002. Last year saw a further gradual improvement but the US numbers

reported do not include passengers connecting over international gateways travelling into America, and are therefore lower than European numbers reported.

EuropeOver the past three years, Europe has seen a downward trend in the number of missing bags per 1,000 passengers. The number of mishandled bags fell by 15.5% from 2007 to 2008 and declined by an additional 24.4% from 2008 to 2009. Overall results for 2010

Source: Association of European Airlines

would have been better except for the disruption caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland, severe winter weather and labour disputes.

Industry solutions, such as SITA’s Integrated Baggage Management Solutions, can decrease the number

Source: The Aviation Consumer Protection Division, US Department of Transportation – see:

of mishandled bags by directing, tracking and tracing passenger baggage throughout the entire journey, from check-in to final delivery at the destination. This in turn can help improve the customer experience while providing real cost savings for the airlines.

Baggage Report 2011

SITA Baggage Report 2011 19

Mishandled baggage will always capture the headlines. There are few inconveniences greater than arriving in a foreign city, or returning home, without your personal possessions but with a nagging doubt as to whether you will ever see them again. Happily though, it is very exceptional that bags disappear completely; over 50% of mishandled baggage was restored to the owner within 42 hours last year. The small rise in average waiting time in 2010 for delayed baggage to arrive was due mainly to disruption caused by bad weather and the follow-on effects of flight delays and cancellations on transfer baggage.

In this year’s Baggage Report, we can see that the industry focus on baggage


improvement does pay off, particularly in a difficult year when circumstances beyond the control of the air transport industry threaten to wreak havoc with the best laid plans of airport operators, airline managers and ground handlers.

There are many exciting developments in the pipeline which should result in continued performance improvement. IATA’s BIP continues to the end of 2012. The introduction of Automated Baggage Rules will provide a more transparent process for airlines and passengers when it comes to baggage fees.

Mobility combined with self-service and collaborative decision-making is at the cutting edge of SITA’s own efforts to deliver on its vision of the Intelligent

Airport. Passenger behaviours and expectations are also driving the search for convenience and secure solutions around self-service bag drop, whether off-airport, agent assisted or at an unstaffed check-in point open 24/7.

Passengers have an even greater expectation that their bags turn up on time when they are actually paying for their safe carriage from one airport to another. Baggage fees provide an important stream of ancillary revenue for the airlines but they also underline the industry’s obligation to maintain improvements in the overall management of baggage by ensuring the deployment of reliable, integrated solutions.

About SITASITA is the world’s leading specialist in air transport communications and IT solutions. SITA delivers and manages business solutions for airline, airport, GDS, government and other customers over the world’s most extensive network, which forms the communications backbone of the global air transport industry.

SITA’s portfolio includes managed global communications, infrastructure and outsourcing services, as well as services for airline commercial management and passenger operations, flight operations, aircraft operations and air-to-ground communications, airport management and operations, baggage operations, transportation security and border management, cargo operations and more.

With a customer service team of over 1,900 staff around the world, SITA invests significantly in achieving best-in-class customer service, providing integrated local and global support for both its communications and IT application services.

SITA has two main subsidiaries: OnAir, which is the leading provider of in-flight connectivity, and CHAMP Cargosystems, the world’s only IT company dedicated solely to air cargo. SITA also operates two joint ventures providing services to the air transport community: Aviareto for aircraft asset management and CertiPath for secure electronic identity management.

SITA is one of the world’s most international companies. Its global reach is based on local presence, with services for over 550 air transport industry members and 3,200 customers in over 200 countries and territories. Set up in 1949 with 11 member airlines, SITA today employs people of more than 140 nationalities, speaking over 70 different languages. SITA had consolidated revenues of over US$1.49 billion (€1.07 billion) in 2009.

For further information go to

Baggage Report 2011

For further information, please contact SITA by telephone or e-mail:

East & Central Europe+41 22 747 6000 [email protected]

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Specialists in air transport communications and IT solutions

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