The International Air Transport Association (IATA) – the trade association for the world’s airlines – is moving toward adopting a standard for permanent bag tags which will lead to faster baggage processing and a lower risk of mishandling.
Many airlines such as Qantas, Iberia and British Airways have introduced permanent bag tags on a trial basis and such tags are expected to be widely adopted in the future following greater standardization.
At its Winter 2013 meetings in Prague, IATA’s Baggage Working Group and Baggage Steering Group agreed on a Recommended Practice to guide airlines on the future adoption of permanent tags.
British Airways, which is currently testing a permanent bag tag, is a key member in IATA’s Permanent Bag Tag Working Group.
BA’s reusable tags store customers’ baggage details and can be used multiple times for as long as 5 years in place of a new paper tag for every flight.
The tags can be easily updated by the customers using BA’s smartphone app which updates the digital bag tag with a unique barcode containing new flight details. The app also displays the bag’s destination when the phone is held over the tag.
The tags also save time as the bags can be dropped at dedicated bag drop area without the need for a new paper tag to be printed and affixed.
Nearly one percent of baggage worldwide is mishandled, resulting in losses of about $2.5 billion annually.
Permanent bag-tags, greater use of home-printed bag tags as well as adoption of XML-based messaging standards by airlines are expected to reduce the baggage mishandling incidents in the future.
In early 2013, IATA launched the InBag program to reduce the mishandling of bags and improve the efficiency of baggage handling. The program also introduced a new consistent 10-digit “licence plate” to reduce the risk of mismatch between the physical tag and the baggage data.
IATA represents about 240 airlines accounting for more than 80% of total world air traffic.