Innovating to Eliminate Mishandled Baggage

Over the past decade there have been real improvements in baggage handling as airlines and airports have adopted new technology. Last year we saw mishandled baggage drop to 5.57 per thousand passengers. But it is still 5.57 too many.

With the IATA’s drive for 100% bag tracking and an acceleration in technological innovation, lost or misdirected baggage could be a thing of the past.

Mishandled bags cost the industry an estimated $2.3bn in 2017 so there is plenty of scope for cost savings to be made in airlines’ investing in end-to-end baggage tracking.

Transfer – the likely point of delay

Approximately 4.65 billion bags are currently handled by industry baggage systems each year. As our appetite for air travel shows no signs of abating, airlines, airports and other stakeholders will have to deal with twice that number in the next 20 years.

The most likely point of delayed baggage during a passenger’s journey is during baggage transfer on connecting flights. Transfer mishandling accounts for 47% of mishandled bags globally, against 15% for bags failing to load and just 5% for lost luggage.

Going forward, airlines will need to ensure that luggage arrives with passengers at their destination, providing smooth transit and an excellent customer experience. As many carriers now charge luggage fees, it is vital they can demonstrate real customer value, while keeping on top of operating costs.

Digital initiatives

Tackling future challenges in passenger efficiencies will not come via bigger airports or creating more complex processes. Instead it will come from exploiting technology to rationalize processes and improve competences, as pointed out by Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO of IATA.

The next big jump in baggage handling improvements will come through digital initiatives, such as providing passengers with real time baggage notifications and fast self-service bag drops. This will be driven by Resolution 753, which is designed to ensure that baggage is tracked from the start to the end of its journey.

Closely linked to the increased use of bag tracking data is the adoption of RFID tagging. Recent adjustments to the way baggage messages reference bags has removed a major hurdle to implementing RFID tagging. The ability to collect data from an RFID tag will provide more valuable insight into a bag’s journey and will help streamline the process and make it more efficient.

IATA Resolution 753 mandatory tracking points

On the cusp of change – smart baggage handling

We are undoubtedly on the cusp of great changes. The analysis of end-to-end baggage data tracking will be able to pinpoint where operational improvements can be made.

Looking to the future, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will help make further advances in baggage handling, reducing costs and enhancing the overall passenger experience. This will include autonomous baggage handling from start to finish without human intervention, for example.

Of course, we cannot expect technology to revolutionize baggage handling overnight. But airlines, their partners and passengers will quickly start to see the benefits of bag tracking data as its capabilities filter into the value chain. In the next couple of years, services such as real-time notifications and fast self-service bag drop will become the norm.

Download the SITA 2018 Baggage Report here: https://www.sita.aero/resources/type/surveys-reports/baggage-report-2018

Read this testimonial on the SITA BagJourney solution from Abe Dev, Senior Technology Manager, Etihad Airways.