Worst reviewed airports for baggage loss
Obviously, if you miss your flight or you just catch it by a hair, your baggage may be either behind or ahead of you in the air. Baggage loss is less likely to happen during a direct flight, but does increase when you're making a connection.
That said, about 26 million suitcases still go missing each year, and certain airlines have even introduced smartphone apps that let you track your suitcase in FedEx fashion if you’re ever fretting. Technology like that helps reduce the amount of baggage loss each year, worldwide. Luckily, the rate of baggage loss is declining. But, just because the airports are doing better doesn’t mean that baggage theft—by TSAs, security teams, and their accomplices—has gone anywhere.
It’s a common misconception that the airlines have anything to do with baggage loss, it’s usually the airport; they have their own ground-handling staff that do all the baggage carrying from airplane to terminal on a rotating basis. Along with their own grounds staff comes their own corporate bureaucracy and general political climate, but let’s talk baggage issues!
If you have to go through these airports, it's best to keep valuables in your carry-on. Through all the blogs and review sites we could find, we’ve found some airports to be wary about. Some of the airports listed may not be on your radar, but some are the in company of the biggest in the world.
- PHC - Port Harcourt International Airport, Nigeria: they tend to pile luggage on top of each other, often leaving delicates broken. Allegations of corrupt staff.
- CCS - Caracas Simón Bolívar International Airport, Venezuela: their luggage safety is reportedly always under threat and surveillance by thieves. "Unwrapped bags are ripe for the picking."
- JFK - John F. Kennedy, New York: notorious for baggage misplacement, baggage theft, and damage. In 2013, the airline set up a sting operation on their own staff and caught seven people stealing within the baggage hold of just one aircraft.
- LHR - London Heathrow, U.K.: one of the busiest airports in the world that's prone to congestion problems and baggage pile ups.
- HKG - Hong Kong International Airport: made headlines in 2015 when a bag “destined for deposit at the Bank of China” went missing with $660,000 cash in it.
- LAX - Los Angeles International personnel have been accused of stealing expensive watches and jewelry.
- MIA - Miami International Airport once fired nearly 30 employees for theft over a 10 year period.
- Expensive camera gear has also been reported stolen during connecting flights between Turkey, Georgia and Istanbul.
It costs airlines a lot of money to reimburse passengers for misplaced baggage, especially once their insurance companies come knocking. Don’t think that you’re immune in business class, either. Once you become comfortable in that exclusive airport lounge, you also become vulnerable.
Hopefully the recent tech-upgrades coupled with increasing surveillance has slowed down the frequency of baggage loss, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.