Using RFID technology to track passengers’ bags? What a novel concept

Newark Liberty International Airport
A Delta Air Lines plane back out of its gate at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J., on Feb. 11, 2016. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

ATLANTA ( — With all the technology out there today, it is hard to believe airlines can still lose passenger bags.

During the first half of 2016, airlines in the United States collected more than $2 billion in baggage fees, according to the feds. Airlines worldwide mishandle more than 23 million bags last year, according to one estimate.

Now, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says deploying Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology globally to accurately track passengers’ baggage in real time can help airlines worldwide save more than $3 billion over the next seven years.

“The airline industry is at the brink of a revolution in baggage tracking,” Jim Peters, chief technology officer at SITA, a global IT provider, said in a news release. “Deploying RFID globally will increase accuracy and reduce mishandling rates. This is a win-win situation – passengers will be happier, operations will run smoother and airlines will save billions of dollars.”

Of course, the U.S. Department of Transportation this week issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking about lost bags. The feds say this new rule will ultimately result in a requirement that airlines refund consumers’ baggage fees when their luggage is substantially delayed.

Earlier this year, Delta Air Lines, for example, said it was rolling out RFID technology. In August, the airline said 84 airports nationwide have the technology.

IATA said initial deployments of RFID by airlines show a 99 percent success rate for tracking bags.

“Over the past few years we have seen more work to help airlines introduce and reap the benefits of RFID technology through better oversight of their baggage operations,” Andrew Price, head of global baggage operations at IATA said in a news release. “This has included trials and of course the Delta Air Lines implementation. The advances in the technology and the immense benefits it brings to the airline industry has prompted IATA to revisit and fully explore the benefits of RFID today.”

Welcome to the 21st century. Perhaps, airlines will consider reducing checked bag fees? Doubtful.

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Sightseers’ Delight started publishing in June 2016. The site, published by The DeFeo Groupe, collects and curates content about places where historical events large and small happened. The site builds off the legacy of The Travel Trolley, which launched in June 2009. The site aimed to be a virtual version of the trolley tours offered in so many cities.