8:17 PM

30 million.

It’s being widely reporting today that airlines are losing more luggage than ever. An estimated 30 million bags were temporarily lost by world airlines in 2005, and 200,000 of those bags were never reunited with their owners, according to an industry report released Monday.

This “mishandled” luggage comprised only 1 percent of the 3 billion bags processed, but this growing problem cost world airlines $2.5 billion, compared with $1.6 billion in 2004.

SITA, a Geneva group who watches these things, says the blame lies with those always nasty plane changes:

Mishandling during baggage transfer was the largest single cause last year of a bag failing to arrive with its owner at the intended destination. Other bags were temporarily lost because of airport personnel failing to properly load baggage, ticketing errors, problems with loading or unloading, and weight or size restrictions.
And if you want a super deal on someone else’s stuff, the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama, sells more than 1 million items each year. Most of the merchandise sold is clothing, but also includes cameras, electronics, sporting goods, jewelry and - of course - luggage.

But SITA says that by using a tiny RFID computer-style chip on luggage tags to allow for tracking of luggage at all times over wireless networks, the carriers will reduce the number of misdirected bags. The RFID chips also allow for quick removal of baggage from airplanes when the passenger who checked them fails to show up for the flight.


So when they do somehow manage to lose your bag, you can just go to lostmybag.com, login and see a GPS signal beaming up from the exact location of your Samsonite. Sounds kinda Star Trekky to me, but if this system works, jeez, why not go for it.

Wired.com as usual has a killer article on this new technology, found here.

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