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Here are the best and worst airlines for handling luggage

by Jordi Lippe-McGraw / / Source: TODAY

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Flying comes with all sorts of issues: cramped seats, delays and the occasional unruly passenger. But one thing that can ruin an entire trip is lost or broken luggage.

As it turns out, there are some airlines with better track records than others. What are they?

RewardExpert, a free service that helps travelers fly cheaply through miles and points, just released the their 2017 mishandled luggage report that carefully takes into account the luggage-handling data of 13 U.S. domestic airlines collected by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics from October 2013 to September 2016.

Man getting his luggage at airport luggage claim
Which airlines have the best records for handling luggage?Getty Images stock

“Finding out that your bag is lost, damaged or severely delayed can end up costing travelers hundreds of dollars — not to mention items that have great sentimental value and can’t be replaced," RewardExpert CEO Roman Shteyn said in a statement. "Knowing what you’re signing up for when you buy your ticket can help travelers avoid becoming a statistic.”

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So which airline has the best track record? Virgin Atlantic took the top spot when it comes to baggage performance. The airline only had 0.09 percent of mishandled baggage complaints compared to the total number of passengers. JetBlue came in second at 0.18 percent, and among the major carriers, Delta Air Lines was the leader of the pack coming in at No. 3 (with 0.21 percent).

Study reveals the best and worst airlines for mishandled luggage
Virgin Atlantic took the No. 1 spot for the airline with the least amount of mishandled luggage complaints.Alamy stock

Which airline should be avoided? Regional carrier Envoy Air came in last with a 0.79 percent record, nine times more than Virgin. American Airlines was the worst major carrier, coming in at the fourth to last spot with a record of 0.36 percent.

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In addition to the best and worst airlines, the report also examined which months tend to have more luggage problems. Though fewer people fly in January, it marked the worst month for mishandled baggage based on the number of complaints per traveler on board. But December had the highest actual number of reported problems. Meanwhile, September was the best month to fly as it had the fewest mishandled baggage reports. In fact, fall overall is the best season to fly when it comes to percentage of claims.

Best to Worst Airlines for Suitcase Success

1. Virgin Atlantic: 0.09 percent*

2. JetBlue Airways: 0.18 percent

3. Delta Airlines: 0.21 percent

4. Spirit Airlines: 0.23 percent

5. Hawaiian Airlines: 0.24 percent

6. Frontier Airlines: 0.25 percent

7. Alaska Airlines: 0.26 percent

8. United Airlines: 0.32 percent

9. Southwest Airlines: 0.35 percent

10. American Airlines: 0.36 percent

11. SkyWest Airlines 0.41 percent

12. ExpressJet Airlines 0.5 percent

13. Envoy: 0.79 percent

*Percentage of mishandled baggage complaints based on total number of passengers

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