RFID Tags to Track Airborne Bags

Airlines around the world mishandled about 1 percent of the 3 billion bags checked last year. That is 30 million bags missing. Many experts have called out for using Radio Frequency Identification tags to track all travel items. But who will pay for the tags?

It seems like ensuring you have enough extra time set aside when traveling from one airport to another is not only expected nowadays, but necessary every time you fly. Which is quite frustrating. Never mind actually changing a plane when connecting flights (…61 percent of mistakes occur when bags change planes …). And if you're in a foreign location, then simple frustration becomes incredible inconvenience.

Airlines around the world mishandled about one percent of the three billion bags checked last year, according to a report released in late March by Swiss-based airline consulting firm SITA. That is 30 million bags missing, recently reported the Washington Post (Top news item).

An apology from airline representatives doesn't solve the problem. Would RFID tags?

As we've noted quite a bit in the past, RFID tags show promise across a number of applications, despite the hurdles the technology has yet to overcome (e.g., security, etc.). Recently, many experts have called out for using Radio Frequency Identification tags to track all travel items. Such situations as those above may be avoided and the chance of your baggage being lost, negated.

via RFID Journal.jpg

(via RFID Journal: RFID tags integrated with standard baggage labels)

The exact movement of luggage can be tracked with an RFID tag on the bag, as the tag can be scanned automatically by numerous stationary "readers." Thus far, bar-coded tags have been used for tracking baggage. These bar codes stored information about where the bag was going. The quandary therein is that if you lose your bag, the bar code will have to be rescanned before it is located. This process is time consuming.

However, the issue with RFID tags is that they cost more than a bar scan tag. Unlike a bar-scan tag that costs just a couple of cents, an RFID tag costs about 19 cents. The question arises, then: Who will pay for the tags? (SITA is among those recommending that airlines or airports pay for RFID technology.)

In the long-run, airlines turning to RFID technology could ensure efficiency.

Who will pay for that, asks RFID Gazette? Will it be the airlines or the airports?

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