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Do tracking points improve baggage delivery ?

Over the past twelve months, the aviation industry has seen an increase in the number of airlines introducing tracking points for baggage at key stages in the passenger journey in response to IATA’s Resolution 753 – this investment is already having a very positive impact

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By Peter Drummond, Portfolio Director Baggage, SITA

Our analysis of bag tracking records that was published in the SITA 2019 Baggage IT Insights report highlights the fact that when bags are tracked at two key points in their journey – check-in and loading on to the aircraft – mishandling rates witnessed significant improvement between 38 per cent to 66 per cent in baggage mishandling. Additional tracking points in the journey of baggage can further improve these figures drastically.

Four key points to track bags
IATA’s Resolution 753 encourages airlines to further reduce baggage mishandling by putting in place cross-industry tracking for every bag’s journey. It outlines bag tracking at four points in a bag’s journey:
* Passenger handover to the airline
* Loading on to the aircraft
* Delivery to the transfer area
* Returning the bag to the passenger in arrivals, or in the event of a mishandled bag to the passenger’s location

Peter Drummond, Portfolio Director Baggage, SITA

Most airlines track bags at check-in, but few are doing it for the whole journey. Tracking across various points in the bag’s journey not only delivers greater transparency and operational efficiencies to the airlines but can also significantly reduce mishandled bags. This makes for a positive passenger experience. Transfers remained the pinch point accounting for 45 per cent of all delayed bags in 2018. It is the most complex step in the bag’s journey – often changing not only aircraft, but carriers too. If the ATI can address this issue, baggage mishandling rates will further improve.

Passenger numbers keep rising
IATA forecasts that the demand for air travel will rise from around 4 billion to a staggering 7.8 billion between now and 2036. In 2018, 4.36 billion travelers checked in more than 4.27 billion bags. Looking at the pace of growth, airports will need to deal with something in the region of over 9 billion in coming years. More bags increase the strain on existing air transport infrastructure and make operations more challenging. This will put further strain on the baggage journey – which will need to be relieved by improved data capture technology including RFID, computer vision and machine learning.

Sharing tracking data
Today, passengers like to be in control of their journey. Ability to share live tracking data is enabling airlines to come up with the innovative apps that passengers are demanding. Last year, 26 per cent of passengers received baggage collection notifications on their mobiles and their satisfaction level was found to be 8.6 per cent higher than using traditional voice and screen messages.

As the stream of real-time tracking data grows, so will the services that can be offered to passengers on their mobile devices. According to our research, the top three on the passenger wish list are end-to-end baggage tracking, bag collection on arrivals and reporting lost or stolen bags.

Airline investment growing
Real-time baggage tracking via mobile apps is set to be a major investment area for airlines over the next three years. Aegean Airlines, for example, has developed an automated delayed baggage notification app to inform a passenger if their bag has not travelled with them. The passenger can fill in a form online and leave the airport, Aegean Airlines will notify them when their bag is retrieved.

Aegean now has full history of the vast majority of its bags scanned as of April 2019, which it plans to use in app services. Currently, 80 per cent of mishandled bag cases are solved in the first 24 hours, which shows that tracking provides insight into where bags are and enables them to be repatriated faster.
S7 Airlines sees tracking as a way of helping to keep passengers informed and improve customer satisfaction. It has seen a 30 per cent growth in passengers using its app and sees baggage tracking as a way of pushing mobile app services to its passengers to enhance their travel experience.

More bags bring more challenges
Passenger numbers are set to grow exponentially over the coming years. The ATI needs to adopt the very latest in tracking technology to make the next big reduction in the rate of mishandled bags to drive more accurate baggage delivery and cope with the increasing amount of bags that is coming its way.

Looking forward
If I look at our industries performance overall, there is good news. The total number of mishandled bags has plummeted since 2007 to 24.9 million bags, which is a decrease of 47 per cent. As airlines continue to roll out IATA Res 753 and willingness for airlines and airports to adopt new technology, the air transport industry (ATI) will reduce further the number of mishandled bags and the impact of those that are mishandled.


If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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