Baggage

Go ahead, check that bag. Chances are good it will arrive.

 

Go ahead, check that bag.

On many airlines it may cost you a fee, but the good news is that airlines and airports are getting better at getting your bag to its destination.

According to the SITA Baggage Report 2017, in 2016 the rate of mishandled bags was 5.73 bags per thousand passengers.  That’s down 12.25 percent from the previous year and is the lowest ever recorded.

This, despite a spike in the number of passengers, which last year hit an all-time high of 3.77 billion.

According to SITA, since 2007, the rate of mishandled baggage worldwide has fallen 70 percent, due to investment in technologies and processing improvements by both airlines and airports.

SITA promises more improvements over the next 18 months as the majority of the world’s airlines (those that belong to IATA, the International Air Transport Association) have adopted a resolution requiring every piece of checked baggage to be tracked along its journey by June 2018.

“We are on the brink of a new era in airline baggage management because the world’s airlines are committing to track baggage throughout its journey,” said Ilya Gutlin, SITA President, Air Travel Solutions in the report, “This requires data capture, management and sharing across airlines, airports and ground handlers giving a better view of where each piece of luggage is at every stage.”

Once IATA Resolution 753 becomes the accepted rule in June 2018, every bag must be tracked and recorded at four mandatory points: at check-in; aircraft loading; at transfer between carriers; and on arrival as the bag is delivered back to the passenger.

When that system is in place, says IATA, airlines will be able to share the information with their passengers and code share partners allowing them to track their bag, just like a parcel.

Mishandled baggage isn’t just a bummer for passengers. Wayward bags cost airlines money.

SITA’s report shows that in 2016 airlines spent $2.1 billion on recovering and reuniting passengers with their bags.

 

Hoverboards don’t fly

If you got a hoverboard for Christmas, getting your new “it” gift home on the plane is going to be a problem.

Most all domestic airlines have banned from both carry-on and checked baggage and an increasing number of international carriers have done the same.

Here are the highlights of a story on flying with hoverboards I wrote for CNBC.

hoverboard

courtesy Getty Images

Fears about the device stem primarily from their potentially combustible batteries, and the unreliability of poorly made knockoffs and counterfeit batteries have heightened concerns.

For those reasons, Alaska Air, United Airlines, Delta and American began banning hoverboards this month from carry-on and checked baggage.

“Most of the issue is [with] the lithium batteries that are used to power them,” said aviation security expert Jeff Price. “Some manufacturers aren’t accurately reporting the power of the batteries, and airlines generally dislike lithium batteries anyway as they have a tendency to overheat and catch fire.”

Ahead of the end-of-year travel rush — when some travelers may be attempting to make their way back home with newly gifted hoverboards, United spokesman Charles Hobart said the airline was actively “working with customers if they need additional time to find alternate shipping methods for their hoverboards.”

Likewise, Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant said the carrier was advising fliers to take care of shipping a hoverboard before they arrive at the airport.
“We offer our sympathies for those who might find themselves with an inconvenience after opening their holiday loot,'” he said.

Many international airlines, including British Airways, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand, have newly implemented hoverboard bans in place.

“We did a review independently of other airlines and came to the assessment that actually there is a risk with hoverboards and it not a risk we’re prepared to carry,” said ANZ CEO Christopher Luxon.

Federal regulations, meanwhile, make for a confusing playing field.

A TSA representative said the Federal Aviation Administration and the airlines – not the TSA – bear the responsibility for enforcing hoverboard bans because “this is a safety, not a security, issue.”

Hoverboard makers defend the safety of their products, but some are sympathetic to the airlines’ position.

“I wouldn’t feel safe having my kids on a plane without knowing the devices were safe either,” said John Soibatian, president of IO Hawk, one of the major hoverboard manufacturers.

Soibatian said his company’s personal mobility devices are reliable and rigorously tested, and that cheaper, off-brand products are causing the problems.

“If someone’s kid wants one of these, you see ours for $1,800, you see a knockoff for $300 and it’s the knockoffs being put together by people who have no business in this industry that are exploding or catching fire,” said Soibatian.

“We’re working with Customs and Border Control to make sure fake products don’t make it to the market and with a little bit of education I think some of these airlines will change their policies,” he said.

Travelers who try to ship hoverboards, balance wheels and other devices powered by lithium batteries via United Parcel Service or the U.S. Postal Service may encounter barriers as well.

Out of “an abundance of caution and in line with major retailers and the airline industry,” the Postal Service issued a statement limiting the shipment options for motorized balance boards. USPS alerted customers that it “will ship hoverboards using only Standard Post/Parcel Select. This product travels on ground transportation, due to the potential safety hazards of lithium batteries.”

Earlier this week, UPS issued a reminder notice to customers noting that “the boards are made with a medium-sized lithium battery that when shipped via an air service become federally regulated. Due to these regulations, only shippers with an active UPS Hazardous Materials Contract may send hoverboards using an air service.”

Airports are also barring travelers from using hoverboards.

Tampa International, Charleston International and Minneapolis-St. Paul International are among a growing number of airports reminding passengers to leave their hoverboards at home.

Miami International Airport bans the use of hoverboards inside the airport, under a rule that also prohibits people from riding or driving a unicycle, a go-cart, roller skates, Rollerblades, or a skateboard at the airport.

Perhaps that why a few days before Christmas, MIA already had a few hoverboards in the lost and found.

Packing for a trip? Do you fold or roll?

Blackpool Suitcase

When it’s time to hit the road, do you fold, roll, layer or squish? Do you make a packing list or just wing it?

Those are just a few of the questions Cheapflights.com recently asked travelers in a quick on-line survey.

Here’s what they found:

Just over 56 percent of Americans make packing lists and 77 percent plan or lay out outfits.

Forty-two percent of us start packing two to three days before leaving home and an another 30 percent start packing a week ahead of a trip.

26 percent admitted waiting until the night before a trip to start packing while just over 2 percent said they lived on the edge and and didn’t pack anything until a hour or less before leaving.

No doubt, those are people you see looking for a place to buy underwear at the airport.

Fold or roll?

70 percent of survey respondents said they folded clothes in their suitcases, while 30 percent said rolling was their method of choice.

And maybe it doesn’t really matter what you pack or how: only 45 percent of Americans reported that they ended up wearing everything they packed.

Upcycled carry-on bags from United banners

united recycled bags

The airline industry uses a lot of ‘stuff’ and some of that stuff gets recycled and re-used and made into new things that you may want to buy.

The newest “upcycled” aviation items are a set of 100 carry-on bags made from 20 United Airlines “Fly the Friendly Skies” banners.

The airline worked with the Columbia College Chicago Department of Fashion Studies and the Re:new Project and asked them to come up with a carry-on bag that would look good and be durable, be economical to make and fit under an airplane seat.

The results look appealing and are available for purchase at the United Shop .

Even better: the proceeds from sales of the upcycled banners will benefit Re:new and the Alto Mayo Forest Carbon Project in Northern Peru.