If you don't want to lose your luggage, don't fly during the holdiays.
A study by NerdWallet found regional carriers like ExpressJet, Mesa and SkyWest have a much greater chance of losing bags in December and January than they do the rest of the year.
During the month of January, mishandled lugage rates were 29-to-43 percent higher than the annual average between 2008 and 2011. During the month of December, mishandled rates were 30-to-35 percent higher than the annual average between 2008 and 2010 — though last year did bring slight improvements.
The regional airline with the fewest reported cases of mishandled luggage was AirTran. The regional airline with the highest reported cases was American Eagle. "In contrast, legacy airlines — like American, Delta, United, and US Airways — mishandle fewer bags than the industry average, particularly in more recent years," NerdWallet said.
NerdWallet found that "travelers are less likely to lose their luggage during Thanksgiving." Something to be thankful for.
The prospect of losing baggage is on the mind of business travelers, The Los Angeles Times reports: "Now a new study by CWT Solutions Group, a travel management consultant, identifies those things that cause the most stress to travelers and possibly lead to health problems."
On a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being the most stressful, the top concern was "Lost or delayed luggage (79)."
The study also said lost luggage bugs women more than men.
Vicky Karantzavelou at Travel Daily News said losing clothes isn't the big problem: "Being without clothing, essential personal items and accessories is inconvenient and stressful enough, but losing electronically stored photographs and entire music collections can be a major set-back at the beginning or end of a holiday."
George Hobica at FoxNews says the Department of Transportation "does require airlines to reimburse passengers for reasonable expenses to replace essential items even when a bag is merely delayed."
Sometimes bags never get home.
The owner just may never pick it up or report it missing. Bloomberg/Businessweek explains what happens: "According to a recent Air Transport Industry Baggage Report, 25 million pieces of luggage were lost just last year, or approximately 70,684 bags every day. If those bags aren't claimed by their rightful owners within 90 days, they're either disposed of or sold to the Unclaimed Baggage Center, which buys boxes of luggage by the pound, sight unseen."
The Unclaimed Baggage Center is a store in Scottsboro, Ala. Its slogan is "You'll never know what you'll find!"
One way to avoid airlines losing bags is to ship them, according to George Hobica at the Huffington Post.
"Why are you still paying the airlines to ship your bags when FedEx Ground and other shippers will usually do it for less and with fewer hassles?" Hobica asks. "Airline baggage fees keep on going up, and while fewer bags are being lost (mainly because more people carry on these days), bags still get damaged, lost, stolen and delayed. Not only will it often cost less, but there are other advantages."
Some of those advantages would be tracking, no waiting in lines, less theft, better insurance and better reliability, Hobica says.
And, depending on the weight, Hobica says it could be cheaper as well. It does, however, take more time to send luggage by 5-day ground with FedEx, so you have to send it ahead of the flight.
Or you can just stay home.