Kansai International Airport
Kansai International Airport has not lost any of their customers' luggage since opening in 1994. Kansai Airports/LinkedIn

Kansai International Airport has maintained an astonishing record of never losing customer luggage since it opened in September 1994. This remarkable achievement has earned the airport the title of the world's best baggage handler on eight occasions.

Situated in the centre of Osaka Bay on an artificial island, Kansai International Airport serves as the main hub for passengers flying into Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto. The airport's exceptional baggage handling record is especially noteworthy given the high volume of travellers it accommodates. In 2023 alone, nearly 14 million passengers passed through its gates.

The Secret to Kansai's Success

The consistency and precision Kansai Airport has demonstrated over nearly three decades are particularly impressive considering the global context. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, three million pieces of luggage are lost annually on domestic flights across the United States. In stark contrast, Kansai Airport has not lost a single piece.

Tsuyoshi Habuta, a baggage operator at Kansai Airport, attributes this success to the collective effort and meticulous attention to detail exhibited by the staff. "It requires responsibility and teamwork," Habuta told NPR. "As a result, when the aircraft leaves on time, there's a great sense of achievement."

In his 17 years at the airport, Habuta has developed and adhered to a rigorous routine to ensure no luggage is lost. This includes thorough checks and organisational practices to keep suitcases and bags in order before flights depart. Habuta and his colleagues implement the principles of Japanese hospitality, ensuring each customer's luggage handle faces forward on the baggage carousel for quick and easy retrieval.

A Culture of Care and Responsibility

Kansai Airport spokesman Momoka Wakabayashi explained in an email to NPR that the airport's success is not due to any extraordinary measures but rather the strong work ethic and dedication of the staff from handling companies and airlines. The motivation to provide excellent service and care for passengers' belongings drives the employees' high performance. "The well-being of customers is paramount," Habuta insists, adding that mishandling their possessions would be morally wrong.

The airport's impeccable record will be put to the test in 2025, with nearly 40 million travellers expected due to the World Expo event in Osaka from April to October. Despite the anticipated influx, Habuta is confident and excited about the challenge. He views it as an opportunity for more people to experience Kansai Airport's exceptional service.

Looking Ahead

As Kansai Airport prepares for the upcoming surge in passengers, the staff's commitment to maintaining their impeccable record remains unwavering. The combination of meticulous attention to detail, a strong work ethic, and the principles of Japanese hospitality ensures that Kansai Airport continues to set the global standard for baggage handling.

The airport's success story serves as a model for other airports worldwide, demonstrating that excellence in customer service and operational efficiency is achievable with dedication and teamwork. As travellers flock to Osaka for the World Expo, they can rest assured that their luggage will be handled with the utmost care and precision at Kansai International Airport.