I have always wondered about this, Do airlines actually lose your luggage or is it just misplaced? The only time I had a problem with luggage was with Westjet, But 5 hours later they showed up at my door with the luggage! Has Anyone ever "LOST" pemenantly your luggage? How is Luggage lost? Are there not barcode tags as to which plane it goes on?
There are barcode tags on all WS
bag tags now I believe, however they are not used to tell which plane they go on at all. In several stations I've been to, the barcode is only used for the sorting system in the airport terminal's bag-belts. It runs through a laser-scanner not unlike the item check at a supermarket, and a "kicker" boots it onto a belt feeding the appropriate baggage carousel. In the case of WestJet, I can imagine that at any given station all their flights are put onto one baggage sorting carousel, and the actual sorting is done by hand.
The bag sorting method I've always seen is based on a bag carousel almost exactly the same as the collection carousels that you see in any arrivals hall. All of the sorting is done by hand - guys pick bags that come off the carousel and then load them in the bag cart or ULD with that flight and destination. The loading crew at the flight is supposed to check all bag tags they load, but they're often trying to load 150+ bags in 10 minutes or sometimes less, so as you can imagine it doesn't always happen. The process I've seen - and is used all across WestJet's system - is entirely reliant on people reading tags correctly. As you can imagine, there's a lot of room for human error.
Implimenting bag-tag scanners to scan every bag, while effective and could improve security issues like positive bag-match, would definately slow down the process of loading bags.... not a great feature in a time-sensitive industry. Really, the best that any company can do is to train its guys and drill them on reading bag tags. Experience and training is everything.
In my experience, loading crews who have years of time on the ramp loading flights make these mistakes of misloading bags a lot less. For example, I can only recall once at CP
where I encountered a misloaded bag when offloading - because most of the guys working the CP
ramp in, say, YYZ
were 10+ years of experience. You have to understand that many of the folks working as ground handlers for airlines like WestJet often don't work for WestJet at all but work for contracting companies like WorldWide or Airport Terminal Services, and for the most part they're quite young (most are only in their late teens or early twenties) and have little experience on the ramp. They often don't stay long because the pay is fairly low as well, so turnover is high - and thus the problem is perpetual.
As well, if you're connecting, bags do get missed if the connection is within a limited space of time. It's compounded if the upline station misloaded the bags or misread the tags while loading -- see above. The problem is compounded by human errors...... but again, most of the issues with missed or late bags are a result of human error.
[Edited 2004-01-13 21:14:30]