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These airlines are least (and most) likely to lose your luggage during holiday season

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On the positive side, Virgin Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Jetblue Airways are the least likely to lose your luggage during periods of holiday travel based on their past three years’ performance in November and December.

Nothing takes the happy out of the holidays like having an airline lose your luggage, especially when your suitcase is filled with Thanksgiving treats or Christmas gifts for family and friends.

That’s why American Airlines, Expressjet Airlines and Skywest Airlines might find coal in their Christmas stockings this year. Based on their performance over the past three years, those three airlines are the most likely to lose or mishandle your luggage in November and December.

On the positive side, Virgin Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Jetblue Airways could make Rudolph proud this holiday season. Those three airlines are the least likely to lose your luggage during periods of holiday travel based on their past threeyears’ performance in November and December. Virgin even earned a star on the top – it lost only 1.56 out of 1,000 pieces of luggage during that time period.

Overall, the December numbers are higher than in other months, because the busy holiday travel season is when airlines are more apt to lose or mishandle your luggage.

Other findings:

  • Last year, the best airline for keeping your luggage safe in November was Spirit Airlines (1.62 out of 1,000 pieces of luggage).
  • The worst was Skywest Airlines (4.44 out of 1,000).
  • In December 2018, Frontier Airlines accelerated to the top of the list, losing or mishandling 4 bags out of 1,000.
  • American Airlines, meanwhile, stayed closer to the ground, with a mishandle rate of nearly 9 pieces of luggage per 1,000.

LuggageHero examined  12 major U.S. carriers for its Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season report, culled from the LuggageHero annual report on lost and mishandled luggage. Rankings are based on figures from the Air Travel Consumer Reports published by the U.S. Department of Transportation. (For the results of our previous research on the topic, read our 2019 and 2018 reports.) 

Travelers are due for a gift
Last year during the holiday travel months, the reported number of lost or mishandled bags rose from the year before, while from 2016 to 2017 the numbers fell. So maybe in 2019 we’re due for another year of improvement. That would be a welcome gift under the tree!

What to do if you have the baggage blues
If you end up being one of the unlucky ones, here are some things you can do.

  • If your bag doesn’t arrive, or is damaged or tampered with, report it to the airline immediately, preferably while you’re at the airport. Otherwise, call them as soon as possible. Document as much as you can with photos, and save any communication you can.
  • If your bag is damaged, request repair or replacement. Airlines are responsible for repairing or reimbursing a passenger for damaged baggage and/or its contents when the damage occurs while the bag is under the airline’s control, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection division.
  • If you’re flying within the United States, DOT rules state that your baggage is covered up to $3,500 per passenger and around $1,600 internationally. To collect, you need to fill out the necessary forms and have proof of loss.
  • If your bag is lost and you need to replace essential items, the airline should reimburse you for those costs.
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