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Each week, I travel throughout our system to meet with customers and employees. I’m frequently impressed by the stories our customers tell me about their experiences with American,? and I am not at all surprised that the top customer? complaints include missed connections, canceled flights or mishandled bags. At American,? we know things don’t always go your way — or our way — for a number of reasons.

We are keenly aware that you expect your bags to arrive at your destination when you do. So, over the past few years, we have been working diligently on our behind-the-scenes operations to improve your experience with us when it comes to your checked bags.

Of the more than 90 million bags we handle each year, I can tell you with confidence that more than 99.5 percent of the time, your bags arrive when and where they should — with you. Of the less than half a percent of bags separated from our customers, most arrive on the very next flight.

But if you are that customer missing a bag, we know it is very frustrating. So, we have been focused on getting better.

As we’ve focused on identifying those areas where we can improve — and have made changes — our efforts are paying off. In 2011, we showed more than a 60 percent reduction in misloaded bags and a near 20 percent improvement in transferring bags to connecting flights compared to 2010. The proactive approach we’ve taken to our baggage operations helps us identify any new or potential issues so that we can readily bring solutions to any problem areas in order to better our customers’ experience.

While our entire baggage operation has seen significant improvement, we are particularly proud of our priority-bag product. For our frequent-traveling, premium customers, their bags are tagged with an orange tag, alerting our crews that these bags are a priority and should be taken off first. In fact, in the past year our priority bags have arrived at the baggage claim ahead of all other bags 98 percent of the time.

Working in partnership with the very employees most responsible for the delivery of your bags, we have also developed a number of new technologies that enable us to provide even better service. Our new bag-scanning procedures are giving our employees insight into where your bag is as it travels through our system. Another tool that helps us increase our operational efficiency is our handheld unit called YADA (Your Assistance Delivered Anywhere). This device, a first in the industry, enables our airport agents to provide the most current information on flights and gates directly to you anywhere in the airport. Agents can check your bags and print bag tags all from the mobile device, making it easier and more efficient for your bags to get to their correct destination. Agents can also use this unit at the gate should you need to check your bag, providing a real tag so that your bag is easily tracked and arrives with you at your final destination.

Beyond the ticket counter, our employees who manage baggage are also keenly focused on making sure your bags arrive with you at your destination. Our bag-scanning tool puts the operational information right in our ramp agents’ hands, allowing our crews to scan baggage ?planeside, ensuring that the bags are loaded to their correct destinations. And as gate and schedule changes occur in a very active operational environment, our tug drivers receive real-time information on a ruggedized touch-screen device — prioritizing what bags need to be delivered to what gates to best ensure that your bags are delivered to the right aircraft — on time.

Our new Ground Event Tracker gives crews in American’s control tower and on the ramp the up-to-the-minute progress of the bag-loading and passenger-boarding events as well as the departure status of every departure at the station. In addition to showing the planned and actual bag and passenger counts of these critical departure events, GET measures their progress against our operational standards.

On your flight today, take a look out the window while you’re at the gate and you’ll see American employees working on the ramp all around your plane. These are the people working hard to keep you connected with your bag every time you fly with us. Rest assured that we are continuing to work behind the scenes with our baggage operations to ensure that you have an effortless experience — at all points along your journey. If you have more questions about our baggage policies or about what happens if you do get separated from your luggage, visit AA.com/Baggage for more information.

As always, reach out with any questions or concerns at AA.com/CustomerRelations.

Craig S. Kreeger
Senior Vice President – Customer
American Airlines