Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mishandled Bags By the Numbers

Some reporters make a big deal out of two airline operations metrics that really are not that big a deal, mishandled bags and, especially, overbookings. It's another symptom of innumeracy in journalism when anyone gets breathless about these numbers in general, though it is useful to compare individual airlines and note that the worst performers are always regional airlines.

For the record:

In March, according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics data released today:

--Airlines "mishandled" (that is, lost, damaged or temporarily misplaced) 3.7 checked bags per 1,000 bags checked. That's an improvement over the 4.23 rate in March of 2009.

--The five worst performers on bag-handling were Atlantic Southeast (8 per 1,000, versus 10.34 in March of 09); American Eagle (7.25), Pinnacle (6.21), Skywest (4.95) and Comair (4.62).

--In the first quarter of 2010, airlines overbooked, that is, bumped, at the rate of 1.73 per 10,000 passengers. Doing the math, that amounts to the sum of teenie-tiny. But watch some dope make a big deal out of it.


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