Having your bag lost by the airline will always be a colossal bummer, but it can feel especially devastating over the holidays. Suddenly you’re without the Thanksgiving dish you so carefully packed, or worse, all the holiday gifts you purchased for family and friends.
If you’re worried such a scenario could happen to you this holiday, you have every reason to be. The number of bags lost or mishandled during last year’s holiday season increased from the previous year, and, in general, lost luggage numbers are always higher in December.
Of course, some airlines are more prone to losing luggage than others. Those skittish about checking a bag might want to avoid Skywest Airlines. According to a recent report by luggage storage service Luggagehero, Skywest lost more bags during the holidays than any other domestic carrier, averaging 4.44 for every 1,000 checked bags.
These Are the Worst Airlines for Lost Luggage During the Holidays
Frontier Airlines comes in a close second, losing or mishandling an average of 4 bags for every 1,000 checked.
Of the 12 major U.S. airlines included in the report, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, and Spirit are the airlines least likely to lose your luggage this holiday. Say what you will about Spirit, but the low-cost carrier lost the least luggage for the month of November last year, averaging 1.62 out of every 1,000 bags.
The study analyzes Department of Transportation statistics for the moths of November and December in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
What to Do If Your Bags Are Lost This Holiday Season
If the airline does manage to lose your bag, you’re owed compensation. Currently, that amount is capped at $3,500 by most U.S. airlines. For most international travel, it's 1,131 special drawing rights—or about $1,600 for airlines operating under the Montreal Convention, or $10 per pound on airlines not operating under the Montreal Convention.
It’s important to note that the compensation for a lost item is not equal to the amount that you actually paid for it. The airlines depreciate the value of lost items.
If you’re worried about being compensated a fair amount for special items, consider purchasing excess valuation when checking your bag at the counter. This will provide extra coverage beyond the standard $3,500. An extra $1,000 of coverage can be purchased for just $10, though costs will vary by airline.
If you used a credit card to book your ticket, you may already have decent coverage to protect against lost baggage and daily incidentals. Ask your credit card company about traveler benefits provided.
You can read the full report at LuggageHero.com.