These Airlines Are the Most (or Least) Likely to Damage Your Luggage

Pro tip: Allegiant Airlines is the least likely to damage your luggage.

The only thing worse than a delayed piece of luggage is a broken piece of luggage, and some airlines are notoriously rougher on baggage than others.

Among U.S. airlines, American Airlines had the highest number of damaged bags in 2021, with 7.21 bags mishandled per 1,000 last year, and 6.30 bags out of 1,000 in 2020, according to data from the FAA.

Allegiant Airlines continues to remain on top of their luggage and for the third year in a row had the lowest number of mishandled bags with only 1.92 out of 1,000 in 2021.

According to a new study from UK manufacturer Trifibre, one international airline soars above others when it comes to damaged luggage. Data from the Civil Aviation Authority revealed that from the 823 claims made for broken luggage between 2015 and 2020, Ryanair was responsible for more than one in 10.

Ryanair's 108 claims over the five-year period mean 13% of the baggage the airline handles is damaged. Emirates had 47 claims from 2015 to 2020, mishandling 6% of bags on board. And rounding out the top three was Alitalia with 40 claims (5% of all baggage handled).

Completely damaged suitcase
Getty Images

While we can only hope the inevitable doesn't happen, here's what you need to know if your luggage is damaged in-flight. According to LuggageHero, the best thing to do if your luggage comes out damaged is to contact the airline immediately, preferably before leaving the airport. Taking photos of the damage will also help when it comes to filing a claim. The site also recommends keeping a log of all communication as it is likely passengers will speak with multiple representatives.

Travelers within the United States should also be aware that there are rules in place by the Department of Transportation to require airlines to pay for mishandled bags. The DOT states that "for domestic flights, regulation allows airlines to limit their liability for a lost, damaged, or delayed bag. Airlines are free to pay more than the limit but are not required to do so. The maximum liability amount allowed by the regulation is $3,800."

As travel picks up again, passengers can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the chance of having an issue with checked luggage is still less than 1%.

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