WPS will explore ways to optimize processes across baggage operations

This year’s WPS has a real baggage focus. As always, a technology stream will explore tracking, including the real-time tracking of bags.

But, rather than just a focus on mishandling reduction, WPS will look at wildlife smuggling, fraud prevention, improved baggage services, improved baggage performance, and how baggage affects the boarding process—all in some detail.

I hope we will see an increase in our awareness figure as well as attendees having ideas on where they can embrace best practices

“WPS will provide a lot of value for anyone involved in operations, and there will be a lot to learn,” says Andrew Price, Head of Global Baggage Operations at IATA.

“I hope that, as a result of WPS, we will see an increase in our awareness figure as well as attendees having ideas on where they can embrace best practices across all aspects of the baggage operation.”

In addition, Resolution 753—which requires airlines to track each item of checked baggage at key points in the journey by 2018—will be examined in detail.

“The resolution is going well,” says Price. “The latest figure for awareness is that 73% of our members are aware of the resolution.

"Fewer airlines have shared their implementation plans, but we are currently carrying out certifications for some big airlines. You can expect to hear more about that at WPS.”

It is not only tracking technology that is moving baggage forward. Robotics and more advanced baggage systems are coming to the fore, for example.

A system might now build any flight it has enough bags for, rather than having a particular place and time for building a given flight

The concept of a build, where the system outputs bags for a flight, is changing as systems move toward a focus on bags rather than flights.

“So, a system might now build any flight it has enough bags for, rather than having a particular place and time for building a given flight,” Price explains.

“Robotics is showing that it can be a useful solution for the majority of bags, so long as it is designed into the system to compliment the operational activities.”

Together with the necessary regulations and processes, this will add up to what Price calls freedom for baggage.

This holds out the promise of giving passengers more options in terms of how they check their bag—whether at the airport or at an off-airport location such as their home or a hotel.

And the airline could route the bag independently of the passenger.

I also hope that Airline Industry Data Model work allows other industries to become integrated into the value chain

If a passenger flies from Barcelona to Singapore via London, for example, the airline could choose to use partner services and fly the bag direct or via an alternative transit point, enabling it to better manage its own capacity as well as passenger requirements.

Finally, the passenger would have the freedom to choose a bag delivery option, perhaps straight to the rental car, a hotel or an office.

“I also hope that Airline Industry Data Model work allows other industries to become integrated into the value chain, so that we see new services being developed,” concludes Price. “We could get bags arriving with the laundry done.”

A notion that, no doubt, will please the road warriors!

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