Airlines around the world 'mishandled' 42 million bags in 2007 and irretrievably lost more than a million of them, a pressure group has said.
The Air Transport Users Council (AUC) report said the problem was the worst it had been in recent years. Some airlines were trying to improve baggage handling but passengers were not being fairly compensated, it said.
Complaints showed travellers without receipts for lost items were not being fully reimbursed, the AUC said. In other cases, airlines were taking into account the depreciating value of items.
AUC chairman Tina Tietjen said: "If something goes wrong, airlines should be prepared to compensate their passengers fairly.
“Complaints to the AUC show that passengers often struggle to get reasonable redress from airlines after the event."
Even with delayed baggage, passengers could be left out of pocket, she added.
"Airlines will not reimburse them fully for expenses they incurred buying essential items whilst they are without their bags.”
She commended the efforts of airlines to improve their baggage handling performance, but said they also needed to turn their attention to what happens when things go wrong.
"Airlines are still too quick to load the risk onto the passenger,” she added.
Figures published in the AUC report showed 42 million bags were mishandled in 2007 compared with 34 million in 2006 and 30 million in 2005.
The AUC said with the number of air travellers expected to double in the next decade, airlines could be mishandling as many as 70 million bags a year by 2019.
By Felix Dela Klutse