Some alarming, but sadly not that suprising, figures have recently come out. The Association of European Airlines has recorded the amount of lost luggage in Europe has climbed by 22% in the last 12 months, during which period passenger numbers only increased by 1.4%. That's an awful lot more passengers suffering the inconvenience of having practically nothing with them when they arrive at their destination, and the figures do not include budget airlines.
Another source, the insurance company Insureandgo, has noted claims from its customers, who use both flag carriers and budget operators, says that lost baggage claims in the first 6 months of 2007 have risen 85% to 2,094.
However you measure it, there's an awful lot of misdirected baggage sloshing about in the system. A letter to a newspaper recently recounted one poor passenger's ordeal during a trip from London to New York; having been told several times by the carrier that the bag had been located in various ports, it finally arrived unnanounced at his house after a month having never actually left Heathrow (where else?). It is quite amazing how chaotic things have become, with some airlines even recommending that you only take carry on, perversely this is at the same time as security allows only one small carry-on bag.
Perhaps the Heathrow expansion is in order to house all the unclaimed bags. Or maybe the rings of Saturn really are composed of lost luggage...