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Can you guess which U.S. airline mishandles the most bags?

Sept. 12, 2019
3 min read
Can you guess which U.S. airline mishandles the most bags?
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One airline reportedly mishandled nearly half a million bags between January and June of this year. Can you guess which one?

If you're thinking Spirit, guess again.

Maybe United? Close, but nope.

If you guessed American, you're right.

American Airlines ranks near the bottom among major US airlines this year, according to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer, with 528,630 bags mishandled in the first six months of the year. United reportedly mishandled 281,665 bags within the same time period.

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American mishandled approximately 11 checked bags per 1,000 boarded on flights in June. According to the Department of Transportation, that was the worst among 10 U.S. carriers. The DOT considers lost, damaged, delayed, or pilfered bags as "mishandled." By comparison, Southwest mishandled just five missed bags per 1,000 even though it boarded more bags that month.

Related: Which credit cards cover baggage delays?

The worst airport, according to the report, is Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), a major American hub. Philly serves dozens of US destinations and several international destinations, including three new European routes — Dubrovnik, Croatia (DBV); Bologna, Italy (BLQ) and Berlin, Germany (TXL). The airline says it now offers more than 420 daily flights to about 120 destinations.

An American spokesperson blamed the baggage fiasco in part on "out-of-service aircraft." "This reduces our ability to react to and recover from unexpected disruptions like severe weather," American Airlines spokesman Andrew Trull told the Inquirer.

If you find yourself in a situation where your bag was mishandled, know that you do have options with the right credit card.

Baggage delay protection is included when you pay for the flight with the credit card, and can reimburse you for the cost of necessary personal and business items. There are several cards that offer baggage delay protection, which you can take a look at below.

Credit cards that offer coverage

CardLength of DelayMaximum AmountWho Does It Cover?
Citi Prestige Card6 hours or more$500You and your immediate family
Chase Sapphire Preferred6 hours or more$100 per day for up to five daysYou and your immediate family
Chase Sapphire Reserve6 hours or more$100 per day for up to five daysYou and your immediate family
United Explorer Card6 hours or more$100 per day for up to three daysYou and your immediate family
Citi Premier® Card6 hours or more$100You and your immediate family

Note that starting Sept. 22, Citi plans to remove many protections from most — if not all — of its cards. Those protections include Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance, Trip Delay Protection, Baggage Delay Protection, Lost Baggage Protection and more. It appears that nearly all Citi cards are affected, so your trip is after the 22nd, you may want to consider using another card.

Featured image by American Airlines jet (Boeing 737) shown taking off from the Los Angeles International airport. (Photo by Angel DiBilio /
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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