Last updated: 09:09 PM ET, Wed July 08 2015

Digital and Printable Bag Tags Helping Speed Up Airport Experience

Airlines & Airports | Donald Wood | July 08, 2015

Digital and Printable Bag Tags Helping Speed Up Airport Experience

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Those pesky, flapping luggage tags are already a thing of the past for some airlines, but not everyone is onboard for the all-digital checked-bag revolution, and some have met fliers halfway by letting them bring their own tags.

Airlines all over the world are trying to streamline the process of checking bags before boarding a flight, and the result has been more and more companies asking customers to print out their own bag identification tags and put them on the luggage.

According to Jack Nicas and Tarun Shukla of The Wall Street Journal, more than a third of global airlines already ask passengers to tag their own bags, and the hope is that the print-at-home option will save time in the airport and speed up the entire process.

In other counties, though, the technology has already surpassed printable bag tags.

The future may be coming in the form of permanent digital bag tags. Airlines such as Air France-KLM, Qatar Airways and many others have instituted or are beginning to put into service electronic tags that are attached to a person’s bag and can be used over and over again. The airline can change the destination on the tag immediately from a distant location if a flight plan is changed.

Another interesting addition being utilized by airports around the world is a bag tracking device that is placed inside the luggage. The tracker relays a GPS signal which makes it traceable from a smart phone, and it also has a light sensor which can sense if the luggage was opened while out of the passenger’s possession.

While these technological advances can streamline the checked luggage process, the United States is still very strict on airport regulations and requires an employee to confirm people’s ID when they check bags. The Transportation Security Administration told The Wall Street Journal that it is not interested in changing its current policies to eliminate employees completely from the luggage checking process.

At the root of all the upgrades and advancements is the quest by airports to both speed up the entire boarding process and avoid the problem of lost bags. On average in 2014, airlines lost 7.3 bags per 1,000 fliers, which is a striking improvement over 2013, when the industry lost an average of 13.2 bags.

TravAlliance president and CEO Mark Murphy spoke about the bag tag changes both in the United States and abroad during a sit-down interview with CBSN:


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