• Airlines have lost thousands of bags this summer, forcing passengers to spend their vacations empty-handed.
  • Department of Transportation data shows which airlines are most and least likely to mishandle luggage.
  • American Airlines and Republic Airways have had the worst performance so far this year.

Travel this summer has been characterized by chaos, from soaring gas prices making road trips more expensive to understaffed cruise ships shutting restaurants or being unable to set sail, but air travel been especially hard hit.

As well as canceling and delaying flights, airlines have been losing thousands of suitcases. Some loaded onto the wrong planes, some ending up in different cities or countries than expected, and others never leaving the airport in the first place.

Some travelers have been left empty-handed for weeks, and have had to spend their vacations buying new clothes, toiletries, and medication instead of sightseeing as they intended. 

Airlines have always lost a small percentage of passengers' bags, but the problem has become much worse this summer. It has largely stemmed from a combination of understaffing and technical issues, and in many cases has occurred when flights have been changed last-minute or during two-leg flights where the luggage wasn't transferred onto the second plane.

Some airlines, however, are much more likely to lose or mishandle your luggage than others.

Department of Transportation data shows that both American Airlines and Republic Airways have had the worst performance so far this year, mishandling around one in every 108 bags they took on planes. Republic Airways is a regional carrier that operates some services as American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express.

The DoT collects information about how many bags were put onto planes and how many of these were "mishandled," which it defines as bags, wheelchairs, and scooters that were lost, damaged, delayed, or stolen after being checked in for and taken onboard a nonstop domestic flight.

It releases this information for the US' 17 biggest airlines each month and the most recent data covers bags taken on planes in June, as well as across the first half of 2022.

The data doesn't cover international flights or ones with a transfer, and also doesn't include bags that simply never made it onto the plane in the first place.

Envoy Air, a wholly-owned American Airlines subsidiary, ranked third-worst after American Airlines and Republic Airways, the data shows.

American Airlines did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment, made outside of regular working hours.

Budget airline Allegiant Air performed best, mishandling just one in every 625 bags, the data shows, followed by Hawaiian Airlines and Frontier Airlines.

On average, airlines lost 0.62% of bags taken on flights. For the same time period in 2021, this figure was 0.44%.

Here's how many bags each airline mishandled between January and June 2022 per 1,000 taken on planes, listed from worst to best:

American Airlines – 9.3 per 1,000

Republic Airways – 9.3

Envoy Air – 8.6

Alaska Airlines – 7.5

PSA Airlines – 7.0

JetBlue Airways – 7.0

Mesa Airlines – 6.7

Horizon Air – 6.6

United Airlines – 6.4

Delta Air Lines – 6.3

Skywest Airlines – 5.9

Endeavor Air – 5.8

Spirit Airlines – 4.8

Southwest Airlines – 4.5 

Frontier Airlines – 3.6

Hawaiian Airlines – 3.1

Allegiant Air – 1.6

Baggage mishandling spiked sharply in June. The DoT data shows that 0.70% of all bags taken on planes were mishandled that month, compared to 0.56% the previous month and 0.62% the same month a year earlier.

Here's how many bags each airline mishandled in June per 1,000 taken on planes:

American Airlines – 12.3

Republic Airways – 10.3

Envoy Air – 10.1

PSA Airlines – 9.3

Mesa Airlines – 8.5

JetBlue Airways – 7.5

Alaska Airlines – 7.5

United Airlines – 6.8

Delta Air Lines – 5.9

Skywest Airlines – 5.7

Horizon Air – 5.6

Spirit Airlines – 5.6

Southwest Airlines – 5.5 

Endeavor Air – 5.1

Frontier Airlines – 3.9

Hawaiian Airlines – 3.3

Allegiant Air – 1.6

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