Skift Take

With an average of two mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, neither airline is particularly stunning in the baggage handling. Small operational improvement such as this would help make the merger a win for consumers.

Everybody’s looking at how American and U.S. Airways‘ stack up in comparison to one another to see what strengths each airline brings in a potential merger whether it be on-time arrivals, leadership, or livery design. The good news is that the two airlines had a similar number of mishandled baggage reports filed for them in 2012 — about 2 reports per 1,000 passengers.

US-AA Baggage

U.S. Airways performed slightly better yielding 2.09 mishandled baggage reports per 1000 passengers between January and November 2012. American received 2.81 reports per 1000 passengers. Both statistics are improvements over 2011.

U.S. Airways performance is significantly better than it was going into the American West merger when it consistently had the worst baggage-handling statistics among legacy carriers. The turnaround came as part of the integration process.

American’s reputation for baggage handling continues to be impacted by AMR subsidiary American Eagle. The airline averaged 5.64 reports per 1000 passengers, the worst track record for any U.S. airline in both 2012 and 2011.

Airline Jan-Nov 2012 Jan-Nov 2011
American Eagle 5.64 7.38
American 2.81 3.58
US Airways 2.09 2.72

American Eagle isn’t the only airline that’s giving passengers a poor impression of American and U.S. Airway’s ability to deliver bags at the same time fliers land.

Regional airlines ExpressJet, Skywest, and Mesa operate flights for U.S. Airways and American via codeshare agreements. These airlines, along with American Eagle, have the highest number of mishandled baggage reports per 1,000 passengers in both 2012 and 2011.

Many passengers may only be aware of which airline they booked their ticket with, not necessarily which airline operated the flight. This could leave certain passengers that lost their bags on an ExpressJet flight, that they thought was American, with a mistaken grudge.

How AA and US Airways stack up to legacy carriers

American and US Airways’ record for mishandled bags is about average for legacy carriers. Delta and JetBlue are the best of the legacy carriers, while United and Southwest are usually the worst with three or more reports per 1,000 passengers during the 11 month period in 2012 and 2011. United was the worst airline, besides the regional carriers, in terms of mishandled baggage for 2012 and 2011.

Airline Jan-Nov 2012 Jan-Nov 2011
American Eagle 5.64 7.38
ExpressJet* 5.41 5.55
Skywest* 5.03 4.08
Mesa* 4.59 4.98
United 3.76 3.61
Southwest 2.96 3.66
Alaska 2.87 2.87
Hawaiian 2.87 2.6
American 2.81 3.58
Frontier 2.13 2.16
US Airways 2.09 2.72
Delta 2.06 2.7
JetBlue 1.84 2.21
Airtran 1.53 1.65
Virgin America 0.85 x

Mishandled Baggage


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Tags: american airlines, baggage handling, mergers, us airways

Photo credit: Fliers take their luggage from the carousel in Boston LoganAirport. Kim Brookes / Flickr

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