AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s airport is one of the nation’s top offenders when it comes to lost luggage, a new study shows.
Austin-Bergstrom ranked fourth for most lost luggage in the study by Price4Limo.com. Only Chicago’s O’Hare International, Las Vegas’ Harry Reid International and San Diego International ranked higher.
AUS was the only airport in Texas to appear on the list. Major airports like Los Angeles, Atlanta and Washington Dulles also appeared in the top 10.
Luggage at AUS is processed differently depending on whether it is arriving or departing, according to airport spokesperson Sam Haynes.
Arriving bags are loaded off planes and sent to baggage claim by airline staff and/or contractors hired by individual airlines, rather than airport employees.
Departing baggage is processed by each airline through a baggage handling system that is maintained by the airport. The system also undergoes TSA security screening.
“Our teams are hard at work building a brand new outbound baggage handling system for departing luggage that will increase reliability for departing bags and will allow us to screen more outbound bags per hour,” Haynes said.
The airport held a ‘wrench-turning’ event earlier this month to celebrate the start of construction of the new system. When complete, the new system will allow for processing of up to 4,000 bags per hour.
The initial part of the system is expected to be operational in late 2024.
Because airlines are responsible for handling baggage at AUS, KXAN looked at which airlines mishandle the most luggage, based on monthly Air Travel Consumer Reports as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The DOT defines mishandled baggage as lost, damaged, delayed or pilfered.
Between January and August, American Airlines mishandled the most baggage. Almost 10 out of every 1,000 bags flown by the airline were mishandled.
Low-cost airlines Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines, as well as Hawaiian Airlines, all mishandled fewer than 5 bags out of every 1,000 flown.