The 2019 version of SITA's annual Baggage IT Insights shows that where tracking is done at check-in and loading onto the aircraft, the rate of improvement is as high as 66%.
These results come as the record drop in the baggage mishandling rate achieved globally over the past decade plateaus, with the rate steady at around 5.7 bags per thousand passengers over the past three years.
In 2018, the rate was 5.69 per thousand passengers.
According to SITA, over the past year, an increasing number of airlines and airports have started to introduce tracking at key points in the journey – check-in, loading onto the aircraft, transfers and arrival – to improve baggage management and further reduce the chances of a bag being mishandled.
The SITA 2019 Baggage IT Insights provides the first glimpse of the success of this tracking.
It reveals that where bags were being tracked when loaded onto the aircraft, the rate of improvement ranged between 38% and 66% depending on the level of tracking introduced.
SITA's baggage director, Peter Drummond, said: “While the mishandling rate has started to plateau over the past few years, this comes against a continued growth in passenger numbers and their bags.
"In 2018, 4.36 billion travellers checked in more than 4.27 billion bags. More bags makes things more challenging.
"Everyone across the industry needs to look beyond the process and technology improvements made in the past decade and adopt the latest technology such as tracking to make the next big cut in the rate of mishandled bags.”
Transferring baggage from one aircraft, or airline, to another remains a pinch point in the journey and in 2018 it was again the main reason for bags being mishandled. Transfer bags accounted for 46% of all mishandled bags.
Drummond added: “Transfer is by far the most difficult stage to track a bag as there are multiple airlines and airports involved.
"However, data from this year’s report shows that tracking at key points in the journey, such as transfers, will go a long way to eliminating mishandling and will allow airlines and their passengers to keep tabs on where their bags are at every step of the way.”
Over the past decade, total number of mishandled bags per annum has plummeted 47% from 46.9 million in 2007 to 24.8 million in 2018, while the annual bill footed by the industry has shrunk 43% to $2.4 billion, down from $4.22 billion in 2007.