American Airlines was recently named the worst U.S. carrier for lost or mishandled luggage. The carrier, on average, mishandled around 8.48 bags per 1000 pieces of luggage processed. This figure is startling, but there are signs of improvement as its average was 11 pieces per 1000 in June. Philadelphia was the worst hub for the airline as it had nearly double that rate.
The carrier blames these troubles on recent events involving the 737 MAX. The carrier ordered 100 of the troubled aircraft and operated 24 at the time of grounding. The grounding of the MAX caused American to have to restructure its operations for the year as a timetable for its return to service constantly changed. The airline also was slated to receive more aircraft in 2019, so many operations had to be adjusted to fit the grounding.
American also cites the pure scale of operations as one of the main reasons for the high rate. American is the largest airline, with a fleet of almost 1000 mainline aircraft and 625 on its regional affiliate, American Eagle. This event has caused some disputes with the airline like Southwest, an airline that carries a similar amount of luggage and was the largest operator of the MAX only had a rate of 3.6 per 1000 bags. The U.S. Airline that had the lowest rate of baggage misuse was Allegiant, with only 1.75 per 1000 pieces of luggage.
American has endured a tough 2019, with the factors mentioned earlier and also recent incidents with illegal maintenance methods. All of these set the carrier behind its competitors, with Delta growing tremendously during this time and United having nearly half the rate for mishandled or lost bags of American.
2020 will be a pivotal year for American as it tries to maintain its position as the largest airline in the world.