Top Three Tips for Avoiding Lost Luggage: RFID, RFID, RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Dec 09, 2011 @ 04:10 PM

Tags: RFID, Airplane Parts Tracking, Airlines, Baggage Tagging, ReadWriteWeb

RFID Baggage TrackingA while back, we blogged about airlines using RFID to track parts for inventory control. Now, it looks like more progress is being made in the airline industry around luggage tracking.

ThingMagic partner, Tagsys has developed an RFID-enabled luggage tag, the Permanent Bag Tag being used by Quantus Airways. The “Q Bag Tag,” containing an EPC Gen 2 passive RFID inlay is affixed to each bag. It’s also environment friendly. Each tag can be reused for an unlimited number of times. Here is how it works:

The RFID chip in the tag stores the details of several flights and can be reprogrammed at read points to use all over again on new flights.

After receiving a boarding pass, a passenger puts his RFID-tagged suitcase on the conveyor belt. A reader built into the conveyor reads the tag's unique ID number.

The traveler follows prompts on a touch screen connected to the RFID-enabled conveyor, indicating the type of baggage that he is checking in and how much it weighs.

The system activates the reusable Q Bag Tag and the conveyor belt takes the luggage into the handling system where it is sorted and screened via the RFID system.

Airline baggage handlers are able to see each bag's destination on a video monitor as the luggage passes an RFID reader.

The last two steps are probably the weakest link in a manual process that would inadvertently send your bags to Miami when you are going to Boston. 

The Permanent Bag Tag can also work without an RFID reader. They can be used to display passenger and flight data on a built-in, electronic paper-based screen. Airports that do not have an RFID infrastructure in place, can still use the tags that will display the passenger's name and flight number on the screen for the baggage handlers to see. This isn’t as error free as the full RFID system can be because it still requires an element of manual processing, but it can certainly help make it more efficient.

ReadWriteWeb wrote about RFID-enabled luggage as an example of the Internet of Things back in 2009. Their story focused on the more personal, human element. More specifically, customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Wouldn’t you choose an airline if the odds of your bags arriving in the same city at the same time, were significantly higher?

So, again we learn how RFID can be used to easily re-invent a manual process, making it more efficient and helping to control variable costs. We also see (again) that RFID goes beyond business benefits to the airline, and yields added perks for the consumers that turn their travel into a positive experience. If RFID can be the reason your vacation travel goes off without a hitch, it deserves a special place in our everyday lives.

If you happen to be flying this holiday season, safe travels to you. And if you are flying with an airline that doesn’t use RFID this holiday season, here are some tips for keeping your bags with you, or at least making them easier to retrieve.  Good luck!

RFID for Airport Operations

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Sep 22, 2010 @ 04:14 PM

Tags: RFID, Asset Tracking, Airlines, Baggage Tagging, Security

Can RFID Help Make the Skies More Friendly?

AirlinesThe benefits of RFID for tool tracking, parts marking and manufacturing efficiencies have been documented by leading manufacturers of commercial jetliners including Airbus, Air France, Boeing and others.  In fact, with almost 70% commonality in parts suppliers, Airbus and Boeing have been working with the RFID vendor community, regulatory agencies and standards organizations for several years to help design RFID-driven systems and processes.

But what about the use of RFID for airport operations?  As a whole, the airline industry has incurred a cumulative loss during its 100-year history and, in an attempt to maximize profitability, has created complex and not so friendly pricing structures for a variety of services.  Isn’t there an opportunity for airlines and airports to benefit from the integration of RFID to streamline operations, reduce losses and provide customers with a better experience?

Consider the following…

Airline Baggage Tagging

Like tool tracking and parts marking, the benefits of using RFID to identify and process baggage have been proven.  According to research conducted by IDTechEX, in some cases where RFID baggage tracking has been deployed, the cost of handling bags has gone from $7 per bag to $4.  IDTechEX also reports that RFID baggage tagging can save the industry up to $760 million a year.  With this kind of savings, airlines would be able to stop charging bag fees – right? 

Security Gate Processing

Long lines and extended wait times at security gates are experiences most travelers dread.  But what if you are a pre-screened, frequent traveler who poses no security threat?  The combination of RFID-enabled travel cards and boarding-control hardware and software can speed up and simplify passenger identification and other security check point processes.  These “fast-pass” systems are similar to those used by U.S. Customs to simplify border passage for pre-approved travelers.  Wouldn’t shorter security lines make your flying experience a better one?

Asset Tracking & Scheduling

Wheelchairs, food trolleys and utility vehicles tend to be shared, are frequently lost or misplaced and need frequent maintenance.  And these are just a few of the great number of mobile assets within an airport.  By using RFID to identify and locate mobile assets across the vast airport landscape, various airport/airline departments could improve asset availability, reduce the time spent searching for misplaced items, optimize maintenance schedules and provide better customer service.  The next time you’re waiting on a wheelchair at the gate or experiencing a delay due to baggage transport, ask yourself – could RFID have helped?

Personalized Airport Services

Delivering a more personalized experience could go a long way for the frequent and first time flyer alike.  RFID-enabled displays can be used for customized information delivery and exchange – providing unique user experiences and giving airlines and retailers new ways to reach customers.  RFID-enabled kiosks and vending machines offer airport retailers the opportunity to speed transactions, extend loyalty programs and increase sales – while helping dad get back home with gifts his kids really enjoy (nope, the hotel soap just doesn’t cut it)!

Like in other markets, paybacks from RFID systems implemented in the air industry can be realized in a short period of time – particularly where new revenue streams are created.  Will we see a fully RFID-enabled airport within the next 10 years?  Let us know what you think below.

[Photo credit: Sindre Ellingsen/Alamy]

Subscribe by Email

Most Popular Posts

Browse by Tag

Ask the Experts 

Do you have a question about one of our products that you'd like us to answer on our Forum?

Post Your Question