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Years ago, 10% of luggage going through Amsterdam Airport was lost. Is that still true? We have a choice to fly through Paris or Amsterdam to Prague on Delta.

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    Which airline, which Paris airport as alternative and will it be on a busy day? – Willeke Jan 4 at 20:24
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    'Is that still true?' - Was it ever true? It's certainly not true now. Do you have a source for that, is is it possibly just an urban myth? – Arthur's Pass Jan 4 at 23:57
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    Small dataset, but I arrived many times at Schiphol airport and not once I or a colleague lost our luggage. – Helena Jan 5 at 10:19
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    IME the claim is nonsense, assuming it refers to anything post-1980s. You really need to provide a citation for the (dubious) claim; also when "Years ago" refers to: 1960s? Was it an anecdote? official statistic? internet copypasta? Was it some peak number during a strike? freak weather? OTOH, Heathrow is a nightmare, esp. during the frequent strikes, freak weather, peak times (Christmas) etc. – smci Jan 5 at 11:18
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    Two pieces of advice: (1) Expect baggage to be lost: keep precious items and a change with you (at least a change of undies), (2) Ensure the connection is long enough for baggage to be transferred, years ago I flew through Orly regularly and every 45min connection resulted in delayed (not lost) luggage. – Matthieu M. Jan 5 at 12:24
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According to this article the rate of bags lost in Europe is about 8 per thousand. That's less than 1%.

It goes on to say that 85% of bags reported as missing are delivered within 48 hours.

Choose your layover on whatever basis you like, but lost bags shouldn't be an issue.

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    Note that there is no contradiction between the two statements "the rate of bags lost in Europe is about 0.8%" and "the rate of bags lost in Amsterdam airport is 10%". – Federico Poloni Jan 5 at 9:32
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    @FedericoPoloni Mathematically, no, but a reasonable person will be able to infer than a modern airport like schiphol won't lose 10x more bags than the european average – Ant Jan 5 at 9:49
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    @smci: That isn’t really a contradiction — it’s like saying “if Ryanair and EasyJet really were much more uncomfortable than airlines like BA, people simply wouldn’t fly with them.” Many people willingly accept risks or discomfort for the sake of price, convenience, and the like. And frankly, my anecdotal experience suggests Schiphol is significantly worse than average: in the half-dozen or so times I’ve flown through Schiphol, my luggage has gone astray twice, whereas in probably over a hundred other flights within Europe in the last five years, I’ve never lost luggage elsewhere. – PLL Jan 5 at 15:58
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    “…other things being equal…” — the point is that they aren’t usually equal at all. Re my experience: iirc it was once with Norwegian, once with Turkish Airlines; and I don’t want to suggest extrapolating too much, n=6 is not a statistically meaningful sample. My point is just that that Federico Poloni’s concern is not as irrelevant as you are suggesting: it’s perfectly plausible that Schiphol could be significantly worse than the Europeans average. – PLL Jan 5 at 16:18
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    Other things are equal, until proven otherwise: noone has produced a shred of evidence that Schiphol's baggage-handling is any worse than other European airport, let alone 50%, let alone 2x, let alone the absurd 10x claimed which would put any airport (with competitors) out of business near-instantly. The burden-of-proof is on the OP to substantiate their "10x" claim, and define the missing "Years ago...". And as to how Schiphol could remain the #2-ranked in Europe if any of this was true... – smci Jan 5 at 16:23
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I cannot imagine 10% of luggage ever misconnected in AMS. This just seems sooooo much higher than anywhere else. Moreover, it would imply that KLM as the major user of the airport would have a rate of mishandle luggage at around 10%, which would have put them in an untenable business situation.

More importantly, what matters is the mishandled rate now, not way back when: the rate for 2017 was 5.57 per thousands, and Delta now uses technology where they claim to handle 99.9% of all bags perfectly (as reported by the BBC here). Given that AMS is a major Delta hub, and KLM is so intertwined with Delta, it is unlikely that the DL performance is much worse than announced when connecting to a KLM flight.

As an aside: I avoid CDG as much as I can. I have always found AMS to be much more passenger friendly: clean, with a logical layout, and spacious wait areas, all things which CDG is NOT.

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    KLM intertwined with Delta? It used to be, but it's now part of Air France. – MSalters Jan 6 at 10:21
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    @MSalters It's technically part of Air France–KLM which is still a strong partner of Delta with a transatlantic joint venture. – zakinster Jan 6 at 10:41
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    @MSalters in fact AF/KLM and Delta operate as a single company on TATL flights through this joint venture. AF/KLM is also implementing this radio tracking system for luggage to be deployed in 2020 (this year). – ZeroTheHero Jan 6 at 12:27
  • CDG also has the issue of being in France, where strikes (grèves) are relatively common. – gerrit Jan 6 at 12:54
  • bravo on your last paragraph, @ZeroTheHero ! It's amazing more people have not mentioned this. You would never in a million years fly through CDG if you have the option of Amsterdam (or ........... anywhere). Heathrow (I can't even stand typing it) and CDG are the two Worst Things In The Galaxy. – Fattie Jan 6 at 15:34
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Last year I was part of the software team of sections of the baggage handling at Schiphol. From the data I saw there they never reached the 10% you claim. The year I was working the number of lost bags was 0.75%. Which is lower than the European average of 0.8%. Though that might be because of the number of significant digits.

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From my own limited experience (fly once or twice a year, always from Amsterdam), luggage handling was very bad in the '90 but is good now. On returning home i hardly ever have to wait more then 15 mins for the luggage to arrive on the belt. Only once had two bags misplaced, they were sent after us on the next plane, this was about 15yrs ago.

It used to be in the '90 we had to wait for 45 mins normally and very often they would forget to unload or would only unload half the suitcases. Than after complaints and some more waiting the rest would come.

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As others have stated the loss rate you quote is probably a misquote, and these days probably irrelevant. Faster connections <1h increase the risk of luggage missing the connection, but they'll send it to you on the next flight. So if you're worried about late bags, pick the airport with the longer layover. Or better yet, plan your flight so the connection has 2h-3h as a layover.

On a personal note, i agree with the comments that AMS nicer than CDG, but that is personal taste. Also AMS is more in English then CDG, which is french after all.

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I think I remember from years back when there was a strike or a system failure there was a huge backlog of luggage in Schiphol, it may even have happened a few times when they were installing the current luggage system.

But that was years ago and I have not heard about system failures for a long time.
If there was a 10% luggage delivery failure it was to deliver in a timely manner, all delayed luggage got send on bar for a small percentage which had lost tags.
It was also always short in duration, like a 24 hour strike.
So while there might have been a time when the 10% luggage lost was mentioned in the news, it was never a long term number.

Strikes can happen but are much less likely in the Netherlands than in France, so based on that alone I would avoid Paris.

I have written this answer from memory, living near enough the airport that news like that makes the small, free, local newspapers and the local gossip.

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  1. The 10% figure was/is total nonsense

  2. It seems like on the order of 1 to 10 in 1000 bags get delayed or put on the wrong flight. They're not lost, you just get them late.

(Example, I once flew from Paris -> HK -> Sydney, and by mistake they sent the bags to HK. They dropped them off to me in Syd. the next day.)

  1. Regarding profoundly lost bags (perhaps stolen, or just utterly lost - you never, ever get them back). This is extremely rare.

  2. Regarding Paris versus Amsterdam on the issue of delayed baggage. Absolutely no difference whatsoever.

  3. Note that if the baggage gets delayed, that will very likely be due to the airport you start in, New York or whatever. For example someone simply pressing the wrong button or entering the wrong code. The "middle airport" would not affect this much.

The general answer to your question is simply that there is utterly no difference in choice between Amsterdam and Paris in terms of the luggage issue.


Purely FYI: Never, ever, EVER fly to or through CDG!

CDG is a hellhole, and Amsterdam is one of the two top of the world's very-large airports. So choose Amsterdam!

Note that even if you're going TO PARIS for a holiday, for goodness sake, fly to somewhere awesome like Lyon, Zurich, etc. and take a train or drive in to Paris! CDG non. (The only thing worse than CDG itself, is, the commute from CDG to Paris!)

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