Thousands of bags lost at UK airports in the last 5 years

empty luggage carousel

Thousands of passengers have complained to the UK’s airport watchdog about lost or damaged luggage over the last five years.

A freedom of information request to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) last month showed there were nearly 1,500 complaints from disgruntled customers; with Birmingham and Heathrow airports faring particularly badly. In fact, when the data is broken down, it shows that passengers were more than 10 times more likely to suffer lost luggage when travelling through the airport at Birmingham compared to another regional site in Bristol.

By the same comparison, losing something was seven times more likely at the world’s busiest airport, London Heathrow. 

It is believed this may only be a small insight into the problem, as most people will complain directly to their airline, not to the industry regulator. According to the airlines they are not responsible for baggage handling; it’s dealt with by third party subcontractors. They do, however, take responsibility for losses and will process compensation claims. 

The CAA report also named the companies most likely to be subject to lost luggage complaints travelling into the UK; namely Emirates then British Airways and Turkish Airways, with Ryanair and EasyJet not far behind. Similar research in the US found that ExpressJet Airlines, American Airlines, Skywest Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest were most likely to let your luggage go astray.

heathrow lost luggage
Heathrow Terminal 5 – You are 7 times more likely to lose your luggage here

The most common reasons for loss or damage to cases are: illegible routing labels which may be torn or badly printed during check in and transport; jet-lagged customers passing through the airport without collecting their belongings; errors made in entering the destination code during check in; or bags being loaded on to the wrong plane due to human error.

In the face of spiralling complaints, smart customers are exploring other options for taking their luggage on holiday; such as premium luggage delivery services which offer suitcase transportation. This solution also helps cost-conscious travellers to avoid baggage charges.

 If you want to be sure your goods don’t face the roulette of airport baggage handling, First Luggage will collect and transport your precious packing then deliver directly to your destination, so it arrives before you do.


For full details on how easy the process of sending your luggage ahead is head over to our ‘How It Works’ page here.   You’ll never have to worry about lost luggage again.

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