IATA & Airline Baggage: How the Addition of RFID Is Changing Your Travel Experience

IATA & Airline Baggage: How the Addition of RFID Is Changing Your Travel Experience

Published by Suzanne Smiley on 31st Mar 2020

Introduction

Stemming from the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) document RP 1740C created and signed in 2005, UHF RFID was back in the spotlight in 2018 in the Airline industry thanks to one of the newest Resolutions from the IATA, Resolution 753.

Let’s first back up: who is the IATA and what do they do?

IATA is an association consisting of member airlines that meets and proposes new policies, standards, and resolutions and recommended practices (RPs) to help steer the industry in the right direction for the future. The association represents, leads, and serves the airline industry by bringing awareness to the industry, creating global standards and regulations, and by creating rules and guidelines to ensure safe and secure operations for airlines and their passengers.

So, what are RP 1740C and Resolution 753?

RP 1740C and Resolution 753 are two documents concerning resolutions and recommended practices specifically for baggage handling. RP 1740C, signed in 2005, started the initial conversation to add protocols and procedures for baggage handling in an effort to make it more efficient for both the airlines and the passengers.

RP 1740C laid the groundwork for Resolution 753 by choosing ISO 18000-6C as the global protocol and standard for baggage tracking with UHF RFID. Resolution 753 was released in June of 2018 encouraging the deployment of UHF RFID systems on all airlines and in airports by January of 2020. By this date, IATA expects all baggage to be tracked via RFID tags from the moment the bag is checked, throughout ground handling and the flight, to the arrival bag carousel. IATA provided an infographic (below) describing the baggage journey from start to finish and at which points tracking will be mandatory.

What is the goal of RP 1740C and Resolution 753?

The overall objective of these two standards is to improve the passenger experience by enhancing the efficiency of the baggage handling process. Every year since IATA’s customer survey in 2012, passengers have consistently asked for the ability to track their baggage throughout their journey. Implementing RFID not only improves the customer experience by preventing baggage loss, but also saves time and labor costs associated with the current baggage handling process. RP 1740C was the beginning, and Resolution 753 is the push that the industry needs to adopt a better way to handle baggage.

What are the Expected Results?

IATA expects that implementing new and innovative initiatives for baggage handling will help propel the industry toward a seamless travel experience. By using RFID to track baggage at the four designated points of the baggage journey, passengers and airline/airport employees can expect:

  • Decrease in lost baggage & baggage mishandling – Currently, about 6 bags per thousand passengers are mishandled. In 2017, AliTalia airline (compliant with Resolution 753) saw a reduction in mishandled baggage by 40% compared to 2015’s numbers. At the airline’s hub, some days the number of mishandled baggage was below 3 bags per thousand passengers.
  • Decrease in costs from baggage mishandling payouts – The steady decrease in the amount of mishandled luggage has saved airlines and airports thousands of dollars that would have been spent in claims and payouts.
  • On-Time Departure Improvement - The Airports Council International (ACI) World collaborated with IATA to develop and promote best practices for reducing mishandled baggage leading to decreased time loading and unloading planes, keeping planes on schedule.
  • Better passenger experience & service – Improving visibility and creating transparency between the airline and passenger, all while diminishing the chance of lost luggage, leads to an improved customer experience.
  • Increase in data/information about baggage – Almost all data pertaining to passenger’s bags and their journey will be provided to passengers and airlines/airports. The data collected will provide airlines and airports with insightful information leading to improved performance. And for passengers, customers will see where their baggage is in almost real-time. (Such as with the Fly Delta Mobile App, read more here.)

All of these improvements lead to increased operational efficiencies and decreased labor costs at airports/airlines, as well as a marked improvement in customer experience.

All of the information in the bullets above can be referenced here: https://www.sita.aero/resources/type/surveys-reports/baggage-report-2018

What can we expect in the future?

In the future, added baggage capabilities, like self-service baggage drop-off locations and other hands-free services, might be available to augment the seamless journey objective. Baggage drop-off and pick-up locations like hotels, venues, and passenger’s homes are being considered to improve a passenger’s travel experience. NXP, a major RFID chip supplier, believes “[NXP] may be supplying technology for an entire smart travel experience, in which a traveler’s bags tag could be recognized at other locations, such as public transit or at hotels” RFID Journal.

What does this mean for the RFID Industry?

After the release of the Resolution 753, the RFID industry noticed an uptick in interest from both RFID manufacturers and consumers in relation to RFID baggage tracking. RAIN RFID has become one of the biggest buzzwords among the new baggage handling initiatives, and two of the largest chip manufacturers have ideal chipsets for the application. NXP’s UCODE 8, and Impinj’s Monza R6-B are currently being used in the development of RFID tags specifically for baggage management. In 2019, two new UHF RFID tags are available and targeted specifically for airline baggage management – the Alien Aviator tag and the SMARTRAC Wings tag.

RFID readers, antennas, and software are currently being tested in airlines and airports globally. Some airlines and airports already have RFID infrastructure in place on planes and in certain hubs, but the new standard is opening the doors for large roll-outs and deployments across the world.

Conclusion

For more information on the Baggage Handling RP and Resolution, checkout the 2018 Baggage Report and IATA’s website.

For more information on RFID, how it is being used in the airline industry, and specific tags in this article, check out our resources page, our YouTube channel, comment below, or contact us.

To read more about RFID applications, check out the links below!

Sources

https://www.sita.aero/resources/type/surveys-reports/baggage-report-2018 
https://www.iata.org/pressroom/pr/Pages/2017-07-20-01.aspx
https://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?17795/2