Bags should be as valuable to airlines as they are to passengers. It’s not only the cost of mishandled bags but also the potential loss of a loyal customer in addition to the bag.
There are numerous workstreams and collaborations in place to drive efficiencies in baggage handling and the industry is now committed to tracking bags at key touchpoints.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) is the key to transforming the baggage process. Within four years, the majority of baggage systems will be RFID enabled.
A GAPS session on the subject highlighted the opportunities and challenges in RFID implementation. The technology brings numerous advantages, for example, including a much higher throughput capability and the potential for cost savings across the board.
RFID provides an extremely valuable set of data that paves the way for future improvements, such as artificial intelligence
It is also a platform for a better passenger experience, providing transparency on baggage location and status, facilitating operational excellence, and reducing mishandling rates.
Consider a mishandled bag. With RFID, it becomes possible for the airline to message the passenger, negating their need to queue up a desk, and informing them exactly where and when the bag will be delivered.
Perhaps most importantly, RFID provides an extremely valuable set of data that paves the way for future improvements, such as artificial intelligence. Reliable data opens up a world of possibilities. With end-to-end visibility, a digital bag can inform all stakeholders of status in real-time, becoming an essential component in a personalized service.
In this regard, it is important to note that RFID tags can be written to as well as read. Modifying the content provides additional benefits, such as accommodating changes to plans.
Data protection will be vital. There are number of stakeholders involved in baggage data from the passenger to airlines, airports, and third-party merchants that may be interested in selling a passenger auxiliary services. Robust data distribution rules should provide the transparency required.
Another challenge is ensuring effective cooperation in implementation and service provision. Both airlines and airports need to be involved in RFID efforts. Only a collaborative effort will provide the full range of benefits.
Airlines obviously have a vested interest in the passenger bag but so too do the airports. With many suffering capacity issues, a more effective baggage service could provide valuable time and space savings.