US airlines post lowest rate of mishandled baggage in 25 years

Did your travel plans go off without a hitch last year? Because according to a new US report, passenger woes such as lost and damaged luggage, tarmac delays and delayed flights were significantly reduced in 2012.

In its Air Travel Consumer Report released this week, the US Department of Transportation reported the lowest rate of mishandled baggage in 25 years among reporting airlines: Per 1,000 passengers, carriers posted a 3.09 rate of mishandled baggage.

In 2011, the rate of lost or damaged luggage was 3.35.

The airline which posted the best track record for delivering traveler’s baggage? Virgin America, followed by AirTran Airways and JetBlue.

The worst? American Eagle Airlines followed by ExpressJet Airlines and Skywest.

Meanwhile, the 15 largest US airlines also posted the third highest annual performance of on-time arrival rates in 2012 -- 81.85 percent -- in the 18 years since the department has collected such data.

The top year for on-time arrival rates was 2002 and 2003.

Similarly, tarmac delays longer than three hours on US domestic flights decreased last year from 50 incidents in 2011 to 42.

In 2010, the department imposed a limit stipulating that planes must offload passengers after three hours of sitting on the tarmac.

For unlucky frequent flyers who are prone to losing their luggage, travel IT firm Amadeus is working on a new technology that will help passengers track their bag’s whereabouts using tools like mobile devices and social media sites.

The new scheme will launch in 54 airports worldwide.