Transportation & Logistics

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Finding Your Bag? There is an App for That

15 Jun, 2016

By: Tracey Schelmetic

Waiting for luggage just got easier, thanks to a new app.

Delta recently announced it has developed a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking system for luggage that will send flyers push notifications about the progress of baggage. The app will debut at the end of this year, and will be particularly welcome to passengers who are carrying sports equipment from place to place.

As an aside, it's technology that is not unlike that used to track UPS packages.

According to Digital Trends, Delta will become the first U.S. airline to offer this type of real-time luggage tracking to its customers. The airline plans to install its RFID system in 344 stations worldwide, using it to replace the standard handheld barcode scanners that have been in use throughout the airline industry since the early 1990s.

It works like this: upon check-in, each piece of luggage or sporting equipment surrendered by a passenger will be fitted with an RFID tag. Rather than relying on manual scanning by airport personnel, Delta plans to install a number of sensors – 4,600 of them at 84 airports -- along the pathways the bags travel so they can be automatically scanned at regular intervals. Each RFID tag will store passenger information and contact data. The company says the automated system is 99.9 percent accurate, and agents will be able to use the system to find the most recent scan of a piece of luggage and see both where the item has traveled and where it is currently located. In addition to the scanners, Delta will be installing 3,800 RFID bag tag printers, and 600 pier and claim readers to allow for the hands-free scanning of packages, according to Digital Trends.

The information made available by the system will be pushed not only to agents, but to passengers as well. The passenger-friendly feature will be introduced as a smartphone app that receives real-time tracking information, and a notification system that provides customers with information about the whereabouts of their luggage or any other checked equipment.

“With a $50 million investment in RFID at 344 stations around the globe, we aim to reliably deliver every bag on every flight,” said Bill Lentsch, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Airport Customer Service and Cargo Operations. “This innovative application of technology gives us greater data and more precise information throughout the bag’s journey.”

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