Not that long ago, the problem of airlines losing checked bags was so pervasive it gave rise to a joke in which an airline hijacker tells the pilot, "I demand you take me to where my luggage is going."
But airlines and baggage system engineers are crediting advances in technology, both the kind passengers can see and the kind they cannot, with the lowest number of mishandled bags since 2005, when SITA, an airline-owned information technology company, started publishing an annual baggage report. In 2011, 99.1 percent of the world's air travelers retrieved their bags at the right place at the right time, SITA reported in April. That means just fewer than nine bags per thousand passengers were mishandled, down from more than 18 bags per thousand passengers five years ago.
Since airlines began collecting fees for checked bags, more people are carrying their luggage on the plane, reducing some of the workload for airlines.