How airport baggage tracking and technology make passengers happy

Serge Yonke Nguewo by Serge Yonke Nguewo | Nov 18, 2019

Passenger traffic forecasts predict significant growth in the years to come. This growth directly affects passenger flow and airport baggage infrastructure. In response to these changes, airports have placed high priority on developing a seamless passenger and baggage process – significantly reducing mishandled bags. 

Behind the scenes of airport baggage tracking

While the passenger process is familiar to most people, the baggage process remains less obvious with a lot more happening behind the scenes. From a passenger’s perspective, the baggage process only consists of delivering bags from the departure airport during check-in to arrive at the baggage carrousel of the arrival airport – but the reality is much more complex as bags are tagged, screened, sorted, loaded, unloaded, and tracked by different technologies throughout.

As a result, accurate baggage inventories are more likely to:

  • Prevent and reduce mishandling by determining custody of every bag during different phases of the baggage chain
  • Improve overall passenger satisfaction
  • Reduce the possibility of baggage fraud
  • Enable exceptions to be detected where baggage is delivered to a party
  • Speed up reconciliation and flight readiness for departing flights

Airport baggage tracking solution technology

When the right solution is deployed in baggage handling operations, it adds exponential benefits to the airport ecosystem. Airports are then in a better position to address any infrastructure efficiencies or inefficiencies and create a more unified customer journey which includes the baggage room.

The baggage tracking process

While several technologies are able to support baggage tracking processes, it requires research and expertise to choose the right technology.  ACI World advocates for better baggage management including the right technology through an enhanced collaboration between airports, airlines, and other stakeholders in the airport community. This collaboration enables a full review of baggage handling systems including the current applicable regulation in order to identify better solutions.

Current solutions

Manual tracking is a valid method for collection of recording point data. As the tracking information is printed on the tag, it does not require information from external systems to obtain a manual reading / recording. Data is typically not shared in real-time, when using manual recording.

Tracking through the use of technology. To date, several technologies now allow for accurate baggage tracking from the drop-off point to the passenger’s recovery at their destination. Among these various solutions, we can note:

  • Identification with laser barcode readers
  • Identification with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) 
  • Identification with camera technology
  • Identification with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

The baggage data model

In addition to the various solutions for baggage tracking, ACI World recommends the adoption of a business messaging standard to improve real time communication between parties. This standard is essential to support interoperability; the ability for computer systems or software’s to exchange and make use of information.

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Aviation Community Recommended Information Services (ACRIS)
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A standardized baggage data model reduces the cost of using a business information exchange system across the community.

Data models such as ACI’s ACRIS, ensure consistency in naming conventions, default values, semantics, and security while ensuring quality data as well as defining standardized communication between airports and other stakeholders. ACI and IATA have been working together on the Baggage Information Exchange (‘Baggage XML’) initiative to facilitate the smooth interchange of baggage information between airlines and airports.

A reduction in lost baggage results in a significant amount of cost saving.

It’s all about the passenger experience

At the end of the day, travellers are less likely to have a stressful journey when they can predict the arrival of their baggage matched with timely flight departures. Not only does this benefit the traveller, but it also benefits the airports relationship with airlines. Airports can better attract and retain airlines, enable airlines to globally track and trace baggage, improve public perceptions through improved passenger safety, and accommodate substantial increases in passenger and baggage volumes. For passengers, airlines, and airports alike, proper baggage tracking is better for business.

Serge Yonke Nguewo

Serge Yonke Nguewo

Senior Manager, Facilitation and IT, ACI World
Serge is responsible for overseeing the Airport IT technology portfolio such the Standard ACRIS as well as the Airport Digital Transformation including the cyber security course.
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