Airlines lose 25 million bags a year

With more than 25 million items of luggage going missing at major airports every year, Aussie holidaymakers are being warned to make sure they have the right travel insurance.

Flight Centre has just finished analysing the latest figures in the 2010 Air Transport Industry Baggage Report, which shows one in 100 passengers globally at a major airport will experience the sinking feeling of staring at an empty carousel, realising their luggage hasn't made it to their destination.

Flight Centre found that of 25 million mishandled bags, more than half went missing between transfers, around 16 per cent weren't loaded onto flights and 13 per cent went astray as a result of passenger bag switching, poor ticketing and failed security.

Flight Centre's Colin Bowman says it's important to have the right travel insurance policy because most people don't factor in the cost of replacing all their clothes in their travel budget.

"Most assume it won't happen to them, but these figures give a strong indication people should ensure they're covered," said Mr Bowman.

"There are more people flying globally now than ever before, and many airlines are sharing international routes, for example a traveller may fly with two airlines on one trip, so it's really not worth taking the risk."

Mr Bowman said some airlines don't offer compensation for lost, stolen or damaged luggage, and even if they do it could take weeks for a reimbursement to come through.

How many bags are lost?

- 25 million items of luggage misplaced globally each year, or one bag per 100 passengers


When do bags go missing?

- Transfer baggage mishandling (52 per cent)

- Failure to load (16 per cent)

- Passenger bag switch/security/ticketing error (13 per cent)

- Loading/offloading (7 per cent)

- Airport/customs/weather/space-weight restriction (6 per cent)

- Arrival station mishandling (3 per cent)

- Tagging errors (3 per cent)