Up to five million passengers have had their luggage lost or misplaced in the last two years, according to new research by travel insurer, InsureandGo.
Just over half those surveyed thought their luggage had been put on the wrong flight and a quarter that it had simply been misplaced.
But three per cent of UK passengers had other suspicions and thought that the luggage had been stolen by baggage handlers. A third of those surveyed said they distrusted baggage handlers at UK airports.
The worst affected region for lost luggage was London where one in six passengers were affected, followed by the north west and the north east.
Passengers living in eastern England were the least affected.
Around a third of travellers said they had occasionally packed less because of their baggage fears, with Londoners the most worried about luggage going missing.
Huge increase in claims
InsureandGo reported a huge increase in claims for lost baggage this year, up 85 per cent on 2006.
The average amount claimed by its customers was more than £200, meaning that they lost an equivalent of more than £300,000 worth of goods in the first half of 2007.
Bags lost per 1,000 passengers flown
Perry Wilson, managing director of InsureandGo, said: ‘The suspicion that the people being paid to look after customers’ luggage might actually steal it seriously damages the whole of the travel industry.’
Figures from the Association of European Airlines show that across Europe 17 bags are lost for every 1,000 passengers flown – last year British Airways lost more luggage than any other European airline.
Which? travel spokesman, Bob Tolliday, said: ‘Once again there is more evidence to show that baggage handling in the UK has a serious crisis on its hands, but there is no sign of a turnaround at present.’
Find out more about what to do if an airline has lost or damaged your luggage in our guide.