Chip Technology Keeps Checked Luggage in Check

We’ve reported here before about the increased use of RFID chips in checked luggage and luggage tags to tilt the odds that your bag will arrive with you at your final destination in your favor. There have been new innovations in the effort to reduce lost bags, this time from Delta. Once you see what they’ve been doing, you may never look at those little paper baggage tags the same again.
This year, Delta has implemented RFID technology into its complimentary baggage tags, eliminating the possibility of a bag being unscanned due to a smudged, wrinkled, torn, or obscured tag. Now, in every airport where Delta operates, its bags only need to be be in proximity to the radio scanners to be accounted for. As with the older tags, fliers can track their checked bags using Delta’s mobile app.
Implementing these kinds of changes can be costly and disruptive because they require infrastructure adjustments. While some airports, such as Las Vegas’ McCarren International Airport, have been using RFID for over a decade, any new tracking system is typically the responsibility of the individual airline.
Delta spent $50 million on the system, which included scanners, printers, and said tags. Widespread use of these types of tags has been slow to come online in the airline industry, according to the International Air Travel Association. But the deadline for all 265 member airlines to be able to fully track and trace all bags is 2018. And the system is expected to work, not only on an airline’s own flights, but also connecting flights with another carrier.
This decision by Delta will ultimately save money and increase its customer satisfaction rate. Delta’s “mishandled bag rate” is already lower than the industry average — .23% versus .65% — but the implementation of the new RFID system should decrease that number even further. And once all airlines are using this system, we should see the overall industry average drop as a whole.
What do you think about these new RFID tags? Have you seen them in action? Have you ever used a third-party luggage tracking device? Let us hear from you in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.
Photo credit: Delta News Hub (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)