British Airways suffered another blow to its reputation today with claims that it loses more luggage than other airlines.
One in 3.8 BA passengers has had lost, delayed or damaged luggage in the past five years, according to a survey of 2,000 UK passengers by an insurance company.
Virgin Atlantic was second worst, with one in 8.3 having luggage problems. Emirates was third with one in nine affected, easyJet fourth with one in 11.1 and Ryanair fifth with one in 12.5. The survey, by insurers LV, showed that in the past five years, 29 per cent of passengers had experienced lost, damaged or delayed luggage after checking in.
Some 30 per cent of travellers waited three months or more to be compensated for their damaged luggage. A total of 38 per cent had to wait for between one week and a month, while just one in five was compensated for the damage within a week. Only 27 per cent were reunited with their lost luggage within 24 hours.
The figures were released as BA faces a fresh five-day walkout by cabin crew, due to begin tomorrow. BA claimed that the number of strikers was falling, while the Unite union said the dispute had cost the airline £112m and claimed it could lose as much as £1.4bn as passengers defected to other carriers.
BA dismissed the luggage survey as "complete rubbish". It said: "There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that a quarter of BA passengers have experienced lost or delayed baggage over the last five years.
"The Association of European Airlines' figures show that our baggage performance has improved dramatically since the opening of Heathrow Terminal 5 in March 2008."
The figures may have been skewed by British Airways' awful performance in 2006, when it lost more than one million pieces of luggage, making it the worst baggage handler in Europe. A report by the Air Transport Users Council revealed that BA lost 1,047,750 bags that year.
LV travel insurance's managing director, John O'Roarke, said: "The fact that a third of all travellers have had their baggage lost or damaged in the last five years is surprisingly high and should come as a warning to holidaymakers."
The worst offenders
British Airways (One in 3.8 passengers)
Virgin Atlantic (One in 8.3 passengers)
Emirates (One in 9.0 passengers)
EasyJet (One in 11.1 passengers)
Ryanair (One in 12.5 passengers)
Thomas Cook (One in 14.2 passengers)
Bmi (One in 16.6 passengers)
Bmibaby (One in 20 passengers)