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RFID Baggage Tracking Making a Comeback Among Airlines


The engineers at Rock West Solutions are more than capable of designing and deploying an RFID system for tracking nearly any kind of object. RFID tracking is old technology that has been on the market long enough to prove itself. And now, after what seems like a long hiatus, RFID baggage tracking appears to be making a comeback among the world’s commercial airlines.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), RFID technology is at the core of improving the entire baggage handling experience from start to finish. And it is no accident. IATA resolution 753, which went into effect in the summer of 2018, requires airlines to track passenger bags at four key data points. The best way to do that is with RFID tags.

Tracking Baggage Like Packages

A good way to understand what the IATA is attempting to accomplish is to think about how packages are tracked by companies like UPS and FedEx. Order something online and you can track your package from the moment it leaves the warehouse until it arrives on your doorstep. The IATA wants the same thing for passenger luggage.

Mandating that airlines track customer bags at four key data points accomplishes a number of things:

  • Real-Time Location – First and foremost, it gives airlines real-time access to the location of every bag being handled. This information is invaluable to keeping customers happy during the journey.
  • Locating Lost Bags – Next, more accurate baggage tracking makes it easier to locate lost bags. The benefits of this are self-evident to anyone who has arrived at a destination airport without his or her luggage.
  • Identifying Breakdowns – RFID tracking allows for easier identification of system breakdowns. Once weak points are identified in the system, solutions for strengthening those points can be developed.
  • Faster Processing – RFID technology enhances automation within baggage handling, speeding up luggage processing at nearly every phase of the journey. The more automation introduced, the faster the process gets.

RFID tracking has already proved beneficial to handling commercial cargo and packages. As such, it’s a wonder that the airline industry is only now adopting it. As to why the sudden change of heart, it could be a matter of cost.

More Affordable Today

The IATA says that RFID tags used to cost roughly $1.50 apiece before the financial crisis of 2008. That doesn’t seem like much until you consider the fact that airlines process hundreds of millions of bags every year. Fortunately, the prices for both tags and receivers has come down.

It is now more affordable to utilize RFID tracking for baggage handling. Moreover, many airlines are charging extra for bag transport. And they are coming to realize that if they are charging for bags, they have better do a better job of making sure passengers have a positive luggage experience.

The Practical Applications

The practical applications of IATA Resolution 753 should be apparent within the very near future. Customers checking in at the airport should notice airline personnel attaching RFID tags to their checked bags. In addition, more self-help kiosks made possible through RFID tagging will move customers through the check-in process faster than ever before.

On the other end, fewer customers will arrive at their destinations without their luggage. The wait time for luggage to come in from landed planes should also fall. And in the event that baggage is lost, passenger shouldn’t have to wait as long for delivery.

RFID tracking is making a comeback in the airline industry. It is too bad it has taken so long, but better late than never.



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