Among travelers, there's a sect that takes only carry-on luggage, for fear that a given airline will lose the checked stuff. Although N4N used to be part of this hardy band, the insistence of Mrs. N4N has led me in a different direction. So, naturally, USAir lost my luggage during a recent return from the Dominican Republic. At least it was on the return flight.
The errant suitcase showed up on my doorstep two days later, significantly taking the sting out of the temporary inconvenience.
Still, it was frustrating that attempts to establish the status of the gear while it was MIA proved fruitless. This kind of thing, multiplied on a broad scale, adds to dissatisfaction with the airline industry, and the perception that air travel, once a more elegant experience, is now a lot more frustrating and unpleasant.
UPS can tell you where a package is within a short time of its being sent. The airlines apparently don't want the added cost or hassle of being able to do likewise. Too bad. Ultimately, they may ignore this issue at their own peril.