Guarantee Luggage Transfer, Security and Reduce Travel Anxiety
Many would argue that, after the after the Christmas holidays and New Year, it is the perfect time to go on or book a holiday to cushion the ‘back to work and school decline’. For those of us lucky enough to travel over the winter holiday period, you can be certain an element of stress regarding: delays, queues in traffic and security and lost items – the ghastliest of all – luggage gone missing or late arriving – enough even to make us regret that we ever decided on a holiday in the first place!
Once you have arrived at your destination, if your worst fears actually came true – the airline has lost your luggage! All your clothes, belongings and bathroom and healthcare essentials tucked away for a perfectly smooth-running break are still at the starting airport, or potentially further away at a totally different destination; the holiday ruined.
Why oh why do these things happen and how? On the surface, it appears to be a very simple, fool-proof process. At the counter, you put the luggage on the belt and they add a tag or label on it and off it goes – the yonder blue-sky horizon awaits.
After careful research, we can discover that the main reasons for mishandled bags (as many as 23 million bags as reported in Kristine P. Koldjaer’s white paper on RFID for Baggage Handling & Tracking, in 2015 by SITA) was:
- 4% for each; tagging error, arrival mishandling and loading error
- 8% Airport/Customs/Weather/Space-weight restriction
- 16% failure to load
- 19% ticketing error/bag switch/ security/ other, and
- a massive 45% Transfer mishandling.
This indicates that the main culprit for missing luggage is mishandling which translates, for the traveller, to delays, damage, lost or stolen, insurance claims and passenger anxiety and stress. Furthermore, evidence also shows that this happens more often when passengers transfer from one aircraft to another or different airline. The fact remains that, currently, an efficient human error-proof process is consistently in place – worldwide.
Can RFID Technology help Airlines and Airports get Luggage Handling In-Gear?
Since 2013, IATA initiated Resolution 753, and now 2018 is here, there has been a lot of activity in the community around Resolution 753. Just to refresh the commitment of the resolution; the aim is that an airline must track luggage onto the aircraft, into arrivals or into transfers. Additionally, the tracking information has to be shared with the next airport in the journey – compliance required by June 2018. The resolution when written in 2013, was unanimously agreed upon by IATA members (including 264 airlines) during the Joint Passenger Services Resolutions Conference.
Why the RFID tag works
There are both, disposable baggage tags (similar to paper tags used today – only containing a RFID tag) and multi-use and permanent electronic tags which are tags that are active devices in that they can receive and send data, typically via Bluetooth, allowing travellers to keep track of their bag using a mobile phone app or similar. Usefully, smart baggage tags can work in conjunction with airport RFID readers and scanned exactly as single use tags.
The RFID tag consists of an inlay of an integrated circuit with an antenna – enabling the communication of information. The inlay is sandwiched between the label and adhesive backing which is converted into a printable label /baggage tag – bag tags are disposed of or replaced after each use- as they are at the moment. The RFID chip is incorporated in a permanent tag which can be used repeatedly, the traveller along with the airline can be continuously updated each flight with vital information and any changes in schedule.
Now See RFID Technology Fly
The RFID technology is uppermost, according to SITA and IATA, in the global adoption of smart connectivity and technological transformation that could save the airline industry up to US$3 billion over the next seven years and improve customer experience, enhancing the ever-growing air passenger sector.
The improvements include:
Baggage management and operations.
- Enhanced services for passengers such as
- Real-time baggage tracking
- Reduced mishandling of baggage
- Improved operations – saving costs
- Construct more efficient baggage handling with automatic scanning
Delta and Qatar – The Pioneers
From 2016, and after many years of pioneering experimentation, the American airline company Delta, has established itself as one of first airlines to respond in full to Resolution 753 clearly meeting the deadline of 2018 – as reported in RFID journal -http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?14439.
A complex logistical challenge for Delta, who have reported the annual handling of approximately 120 million bags! Through expert RFID technology solutions, Delta is predicting 99.9 percent correct identification of luggage, Bill Lentsch (responsible for customer service and cargo at Delta) revealed both the airline’s major investment and conviction of RFID technology: “With a $50 million investment in RFID at 344 stations around the globe, we aim to reliably deliver every bag on every flight.” http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?14439
The Middle East key air carrier Qatar also announced earlier last year, it is fully complying with Resolution 753, in accurately tracking baggage from start to finish. Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Mr. Akbar Al Baker, in an press release, explained how the innovatory step added both value as business case and how highly the airline holds the quality of experience for its customers: “We have proactively taken steps to align our baggage management systems with IATA’s requirements. As a result, we are delighted that the association has declared Qatar Airways the first airline worldwide to become certified for end-to-end tracking for our hub at Hamad International Airport.”
RFID Keeps Moving Ever Upwards!
Since the implementation of Resolution 753 in 2013 and noticeably, from 2015, airlines have begun to implement more effective luggage management systems resulting in a drop in the numbers of lost or missing luggage. However, and rightly so, one late or lost bag is one too many in the eyes of thousands of travellers, who have spent their hard-earned money on anticipating a well-organised and well-deserved holiday; let’s hope the hard work and investment in RFID products and systems and solutions will keep customers flying high!