Which airports and airlines are the worst when it comes to lost luggage? Here’s what we found

·2 min read

After the airline meltdown around Christmas time, Southwest Airlines said “we have returned virtually all of the bags” that were lost in the chaos.

The airline’s CEO confirmed that news in a message that went out to Southwest travelers last week.

Southwest Airlines, the largest domestic airline in the U.S., canceled more than 16,000 flights over 11 days at the end of December.

During a recent interview with “Good Morning America,” Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan apologized for the debacle.

“There’s just no way almost to apologize enough because we love our customers, we love our people, and really impacted their plans,” Jordan said. “There will be a lot of lessons learned that come out of this.”

Although Southwest wasn’t the only airline to experience issues during the holiday rush, they appeared to be the most impacted.

The historic scale of cancellations at Southwest sprang from the company’s uniquely complex flight coordination model and its antiquated internal scheduling systems, flight experts, Southwest Airlines officials, and union leaders previously told ABC News.

The chaos led to missed flights, massively delayed takeoffs, and lots of lost bags creating a travelers’ nightmare.


Following the interruptions, we started looking into the airports and airlines that have the most issues with lost luggage.

In a recent study, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport came in fifth out of the top 10 airports across the country for most lost luggage. It is also important to point out that Hartsfield-Jackson still retains the title of the world’s busiest airport as well.

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport had the most issues, followed by Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, and San Diego International Airport.

When it came to airlines that lost the most baggage, that same study found that Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines came in ninth out of 17 major airlines.

“Of all national airlines, American Airlines lost the most bags in 2022, losing 850 bags per 100,000. That was followed by JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, and United Airlines,” Travel and Leisure magazine reported in a recent article published before the holiday meltdown.

“Regional airline Republic Airways had the worst track record, losing nearly 1% of bags. But nationally, American Airlines lost the most luggage, almost the same amount as Republic. Southwest lost the least luggage of the four major national airlines, only 0.38% bags,” the study showed. “Popular budget airline, Allegiant Air, lost the fewest bags but was responsible for a 700% increase in damaged baggage over the past 12 months. The airline with the second highest increase in luggage damage was Alaska Airlines, with just 200%.”

Have you traveled in the last year and had your luggage lost? Did you lose anything unique? If so, we’d like to hear from you. Email our investigative unit if you’re willing to talk about your experience on camera.