Ranked: Which UK Airports Are The Worst For Losing Your Luggage?

Losing a bag can turn the trip of a lifetime into a total nightmare. Every day hundreds of bags all over the world go missing between handing them over at check-in and the luggage conveyor at the destination. UK based company MoneySuperMarket investigated the situation in the UK and further afield to see which airports were most likely to lose your bag.

Lost luggage
Which airports are most likely to lose your luggage. Photo: Pixabay

The worst UK airports for lost or delayed luggage

Recent research by MoneySuperMarket has delved into the world of missing bags. By analyzing complaints made to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the research identified which airports were more or less likely to separate travelers from their bags.

The research only looked at airports with more than a million passengers in the past five years, and only in cases where the lost luggage situation was unresolved. In most cases when a bag goes astray, the situation can be rectified at the airport. When it cannot be found, the situation is referred to the CAA, which is the segment of data this study considers.

In total, in the past five years, 2,068 complaints were received by the CAA in regards to unresolved lost baggage issues. Here are the worst airports for complaints:

  • Heathrow: 636
  • Gatwick: 280
  • Manchester: 186
  • Birmingham: 100
  • Stansted: 61
  • Edinburgh: 47
  • Luton: 27
  • Glasgow: 26
  • Newcastle: 23
  • London City: 15

Its unsurprising to see London Heathrow at the top of this list. As the UK’s busiest airport and indeed one of the world’s busiest, most passengers passing through its terminals means more chances for bags to go missing.

Heathrow lost luggage
Heathrow is revealed to be the UK’s worst airport for lost luggage. Photo: Pixabay

However, despite being a busy airport, Heathrow is still considerably worse than other airports in the UK. Even accounting for its 380 million passengers over the past five years, Heathrow still loses or delays luggage around three times as often as the UK average.

According to the research, it takes, on average, 7.8 days for a bag to be located and returned. For some, it can be a lot longer than this, and in around 8% of cases, it never comes back at all.

It’s worth pointing out that, despite these numbers, the chances of having your bag lost in transit are still relatively slim. At Heathrow, just one in every 500,000 bags goes missing. The best airport proportionally was actually London Luton, with just one bag in every 2.500,000 going missing.

The worst airports in the world for lost luggage

Not wanting to single out the UK as the only place where bags can be lost, the research also looked at the number of bags lost by airports British travelers are arriving at. Ranked from worst to best, the top 10 worst airports for bags lost in the past five years are:

  • Madrid: 84
  • Dubai: 66
  • Barcelona: 47
  • Rome Fiumicino: 41
  • Istanbul: 39
  • Amsterdam: 34
  • Dublin: 30
  • Paris Charles De Gaulle: 30
Dublin Airport lost luggage
Proportionally, Dublin was most likely to lose a bag. Photo: ColmDeSpáinn via Wikimedia

Proportionate to the number of bags being handled, Dublin was actually the worst, with one in 2.5m bags going missing. The best was Amsterdam and Paris CDG, with just one in 10m bags going astray.

Looking after your luggage

If you’re traveling and are worried about your luggage going missing, you can take some steps to minimize the impact of this. Things like adding luggage tags with your contact details on will help airports get your bags back to you, and having an inventory of the contents will make any insurance claim much easier to process.

Lost luggage
Tagging your bag can help airlines and airports reunite you with lost luggage. Photo: PXhere

Anna Sant, travel insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, commented,

“Most luggage arrives at its intended destination without a hitch. However, with the Civil Aviation Authority receiving over 2,000 unresolved luggage complaints in the past five years, it’s clear that it’s not always an issue that airlines can fix themselves.

“Preparing for your trip with items such as luggage tags can help any lost items find their way back to you. Many airlines have information sheets for anyone whose luggage goes missing, which details next steps and acts as written confirmation. Noting the contents and value of your cases will also assist with any subsequent insurance claims.”

MoneySuperMarket estimate that some 12% of people who lost their bags didn’t have any insurance to cover their replacement. While you can claim compensation from the airline if the luggage was lost after check in,  this can be a lengthy process and won’t always cover the entire value of what was in the bag.

Have you ever lost a bag on a trip? Did you get it back? Let us know your experience in the comments.