High Tech Ready to Help Fight Against Lost Luggage

As baggage handlers load luggage onto conveyor belts a small computer verifies each piece belongs to the flight the handler is loading.

If a single bag does not, a red light would start flashing and the conveyor belt would stop. Then someone would have to acknowledge the mistaken bag and reroute the luggage before the conveyor begins again.

This is baggage handlings’ future. Delta Air Lines will invest over $50 million to decrease the burden of one of the biggest headaches in air travel: Delayed or lost baggage.

Delta carried during 2015 over 120 million suitcases that were checked, collecting fees of $25 for each way for the majority of domestic flights. For the price, fliers expect to have their suitcase waiting for them at the baggage claim carousel when they exit their flight.

Delta currently has one of the industry’s best handling record for luggage with just 1 piece out of 500 bags not arriving on time. However, it hopes that deploying this new system of radio-frequency identification globally, it will improve even more.

If this system is successful, other airlines likely will follow suit. In the end, the bag tag could be replaced with permanent RFID readers in suitcases, lowering the chances that fliers will begin vacation without all their belongings.

It is an intelligent move by Delta said one industry research group. It is one that helps to increase the confidence of customers that their luggage will arrive when they do.

RFID identifies tags wirelessly that are attached to different items. The technology has been used widely at warehouses in order to track goods but the rollout by Delta is the first global use with passenger bags.

The majority of today’s airlines used barcodes to identify each of the bags of luggage, with each tag having its unique 10-digit number.

However, reading each individual barcode with a scanner can become time consuming.

Often times, a bag or two are not scanned or a reader misses an error message since they are so focused on getting their aircraft out on time.

Delta has designed its new high tech system to eliminate those types of errors. At the largest 84 airports where Delta is, which account for more than 85% of its overall passengers, Delta will have special loaders with the RFID readers built in.

The loaders will come to a stop when a bag that has a different flight number has been place accidently on the conveyor belt.