# What is the probability of "true" lost baggage (never returned to owner)?

In "true" lost baggage, I mean the loss of your baggage that is ultimately not returned to an owner and ends up in compensation.

According to the post here, the probability of the baggage being lost is 0.3%. However, this includes cases that the baggage is ultimately returned to the owner, which I assume consists of the most lost baggage occurences.

I would rather like to know how probable it is for you to lose your baggage completely. Is there any research or statistics on this area? Since the expected amount of money on compensation is ridiculously low in my humble opinion, I feel scared of this happening.

• why are you scared of it happening specifically because the figures are low? That would mean it's less likely to happen... Mar 10, 2017 at 17:39
• I think that every country and airline must have a different probability and change in time. I myself have traveled twice to Mexico from Spain with British Airways, with a stop in London, four airplanes for the journey. One time I lost my baggage on the return at home. Well, my bag traveled a diferent route, going through several airports and hands. Finally, after 1 month, I recovered my bag; it was superficially damaged, with some cuts, and some stuff was missing. 25% lost in all trips 85% of things recovered from this total: 1.6666% baggage "true" lost Mar 10, 2017 at 18:41
• Bags get "lost" primarily because they loose their checked bag tag and the traveler didn't have any additional contact inside the bag. Put an extra tag with name and address inside the bag. Maybe even a list of your flights and pnr. The next biggest is theft. Travel101 - don't anything of value in your suitcase.
– user13044
Mar 11, 2017 at 0:32
• @KateGregory Maybe you took "the reparation figure" as the probability of it happening? I meant the figure as the expected amount of money on reparation. Mar 11, 2017 at 6:37
• I don't understand exactly what you're scared of. Is it the possible monetary loss, or inconvenience, or irreplaceable items? You can always buy baggage/travel insurance if you want (although it may be unnecessary, or recourse-insurance, or you may already be covered by your credit card or some other policy). And you can photograph your case's contents while you're packing it in case you need to make a claim. Anyway, there are lots of more likely things that can go wrong on a trip, but lost and unreimbursed baggage is not one of the big ones.
– smci
Mar 11, 2017 at 11:36

From the data available here which is sourced from Air Travel Consumer Report issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, 0.021% of luggage is never found

The rate of mishandled bags dropped 21% to about seven per 1,000 passengers.The good news about lost luggage is that airlines worldwide eventually recover 97% of mishandled bags.Of all mishandled bags, 81% were simply delayed, 16% were damaged or pilfered and 3% were declared lost or stolen and never found.

0.007*0.03 = 0.00021 = 0.021% of the total......

• @Megha I think you're an order of magnitude off. 2 bags per 10,000 passengers. Still not many (though, it doesn't take into account bags that show a bit lighter...) Mar 10, 2017 at 22:22
• @stannius - well, there is a reason I made sure there was a disclaimer in my comment... I think I got the hundred thousand when I was looking for whole numbers of missing bags, as decimals usually don't go missing on their own, then decided .1 was near enough to round, and forgot to adjust back down. Thanks for catching it :) Mar 10, 2017 at 22:42
• It's possible that some of the 0.021% includes people accidentally taking the wrong bag or airline employees accidentally checking in phantom bags. Mar 10, 2017 at 23:34
• @stannius Your math is right. However 1 per 5,000 is too high probability for me... Mar 11, 2017 at 6:57
• So you'd have to fly 3300 times before you'd reach a 50% chance of losing a bag (.99979^x = 0.5). Suffice to say most of us won't be losing bags, thankfully. Mar 11, 2017 at 9:24

Also some data here: (and bonus - you may find your lost stuff ;)

Although over 99.5% of domestic airline’s checked bags are picked up at the baggage carousel, lost luggage is an unfortunate part of airline travel. The airlines conduct an extensive three-month tracing process with the remaining .5% of unclaimed bags in an effort to reunite them with their owners, resulting in an astonishingly small fraction of a percent of bags that are ultimately orphaned.