Worrying about luggage going astray may soon be a thing of the past for Delta Air Lines passengers. The company has announced plans to roll out Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology on every flight later this year. The technological advance will enable passengers to track their luggage throughout their journeys using a free Delta app, downloadable on Android, iOS and Windows phones.
RFID works by using a reader and a special paper tag or label affixed to luggage. A two-way radio transmitter-receiver is then deployed to send signals to tagged baggage. The baggage, in turn, responds with stored information, allowing tracking throughout travel. Passengers will be able to keep up with their bags using the app, while Delta will use a belt load sensor to ensure luggage has been loaded properly.
Delta is the first carrier to roll out RFID on a global scale. It’s made a $50 million investment to equip all 344 airports it services with the technology. The investment includes 4,600 scanners and 3,800 RFID bag tag printers, among other expenses.
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Delta plans to make the technology available to all its passengers worldwide by the end of August. The company, however, won’t be alone in offering a better way to track luggage for long. Concerns about lost luggage have prompted the International Air Transport Association to mandate that all airlines incorporate measures to better track bags by June 2018. The association’s legislation requires airlines to have the ability to track bags from airport counter to plane to baggage claim within that timeframe.
While lost luggage reports are on the decline, the frequency remained high enough to prompt the action. It was estimated in 2015 that there were 3.64 reports of lost luggage per thousand passengers. That number has dropped to 2.64 per thousand today.
How soon other airlines will incorporate RFID or other tracking technology on their routes is uncertain. Delta, however, is pleased to be the first on a global scale.
“RFID will give Delta people a greater tool to further widen the gap between us and our competitors,” Bill Lentsch, senior vice president of Airport Customer Service and Cargo Operations, told Tech Times.
RFID has tested out so far with a 99.9 success rate in regard to correct routing and loading. Prior to the technology’s introduction, Delta had managed to reduce its luggage mishandling rate by nearly 70% over the past decade. RFID offers the hope of near elimination of this concern since the technology will signal staff when bags have been incorrectly loaded, enabling immediate action.