Track your Baggage’s Journey

By: Maneesh Jaikrishna
(Vice President, India and Subcontinent at SITA)

The rise of the connected traveler offers multiple opportunities for airports to create a more seamless, personalized journey. Fully integrated, intelligent operational and passenger technologies along with business intelligence all come together to make a real difference to the passenger experience.

One very important passenger service which has seen great deal of change is baggage management. Airlines and airports are continuing to invest in new technology to optimize passenger and baggage processing, including self bag tagging, self bag drop, systems automation and bag ticketing. According to the 2015 SITA Baggage Report, there has been decline of over 61 per cent in baggage mishandling by airlines around the world in the last seven years, despite a significant rise in the number of passengers over the same period. This significant improvement in baggage handling has been attributed to increased investment in technology, which has resulted in an estimated saving of US $18 billion.

The landscape for baggage management at airports is set for dramatic change with the requirement by 2018 for airlines to keep track of every item of baggage from start to finish. The recent adoption of IATA Resolution 753 requires IATA members to “maintain an accurate inventory of baggage by monitoring the acquisition and delivery of baggage” – in other words to keep tabs on every item of baggage from start to finish.
IATA Resolution 753 stipulates that members must be able to:
Demonstrate delivery of baggage when custody changes
Demonstrate acquisition of baggage when custody changes
Provide an inventory of bags on departure of a flight
Be capable of exchanging these events with other airlines as needed

As traveler numbers continue to skyrocket, the industry’s focus on making baggage smarter will be even more important. It requires airports to have the IT systems and infrastructure in place to support airline compliance. This will involve a range of different parties at different points of the process. Bags will need to be tracked by either automated readers or staff using mobile handheld devices. Other technology, such as GSM/GPS-enabled devices and beacons, may also be used to track each and every bag along its journey.

Some airports already have a high level of tracking throughout their terminals. For example, London Heathrow Airport has installed scanners and lasers across the whole airport. At Italy’s largest airport, Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport Rome, SITA has installed readers to track bags and has implemented the airport’s bag reconciliation, messaging and management systems. The investment has paid off: over two years, mishandling rates for airlines using the airport were reduced by 70%, with 360,000 fewer bags mishandled. This delivered estimated savings to the airlines of US$ 36m.

SITA has also worked with several airports to install baggage systems into new terminals – including Heydar Aliev International Airport’s new Terminal 1 in Baku, Azerbaijan and St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport, both of which use the SITA BagMessage and BagManager solutions.

One of the most innovative baggage solutions installed at a new terminal was at Dublin Airport T2. SITA developed a sophisticated solution that enables US Customs and Immigration pre-clearance to be carried out in Ireland. The first of its kind, it captures images of bags from the moment they are checked in and tracks them throughout the airport so that the US Customs and Border Protection officials can immediately locate and retrieve a bag for inspection.
Ultimately, the aim is to reduce mishandling by determining custody of every bag during each phase of the baggage process. This will increase passenger satisfaction while at the same time the possibility of baggage fraud can be reduced by knowing exactly what bags you should have when. There are benefits for all parties – airlines airports and passengers – because accurate information not only reduces mishandling but can help to speed up reconciliation and flight readiness for departing flights and help measure performance against service level parameters.

But what must be remembered is that meeting IATA’s requirements still demands intelligent tracking capabilities such as those offered by SITA’s BagJourney, which makes tracking data available to airlines and airports, to be conveyed to passengers.

As we move closer to the 2018 deadline for keeping track of every baggage item, we need to work together to meet the needs of connected traveler. Today’s tech-savvy travelers rely more and more on mobile devices that sport dozens of apps to help them stay in touch, find a hotel, check out best deals and generally stay linked to their own universe of friends, colleagues, appointments, schedules and itineraries. More on this will be discussed during the 2015 Aviation ICT Forum, taking place on 13-14 October in the Grand Hyatt Goa, and hosted by SITA in association with the industry bodies Airports Authority of India (AAI), ACI, IATA, CAPA, Association of Private Airport Operators (APAO) and many leading industry stakeholders.

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