Delta Enlists RFID In Innovative Plan To Keep Track Of Passengers’ Luggage

One of the biggest complaints among travelers is lost or damaged luggage. A missed connection almost certainly means a passenger’s bag will end up in another part of the country or even the world, and airlines must spend time and money reuniting passengers with their bags in a timely fashion. Thanks to new technology, however, this could soon become a thing of the past. Later this year, Delta will become the first American airline to track passengers’ checked luggage using RFID tags.

In an effort to find bags quickly and easily for rerouting when passengers miss connections, the airline is embarking on a $50 million switchover from barcode hand scanning to RFID. Tests show that this technology can track bags with a 99.9 percent rate of success using intelligent bar codes that communicate with an electronic network.

The airline said that passengers will also be able to keep track of their bags using the Delta mobile app. Delta handles a total of 120 million bags each year.

Mishandled Luggage Rate Dropping But Remains An Expensive Problem

The International Air Transport Association has put a new rule in place requiring that airlines have the ability to track passengers’ bags through every part of their journey by June of 2018. Last year, the industry set a record by losing or damaging the fewest bags of any year, with the number dropping 10.5 percent from 2014 to reach 6.5 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers. Despite the banner year, damaged or lost bags still cost airlines a total of $2.3 billion in 2015.

According to data from the U.S. Transportation Department for February this year, Delta mishandled 1.95 bags per thousand passengers, placing it first among the major American carriers and fourth out of all airlines overall. Virgin America, JetBlue Airways, and Alaska Airlines took first, second and third places respectively.

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