Delta has a 'historic' new plan to ensure your luggage never gets lost
REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
By the end of this year, the company plans to become the first airline to use RFID tags to enhance tracking of all luggage that passes through its system - a move the company is calling "historic."
The innovation comes on the heels of more than two decades of handheld barcode scanning, which began in the early 1990s as the gold standard for keeping track of baggage.
The new technology, which stands for Radio Frequency Identification and appears in other industries from shipping services to public libraries, will enable customers to receive push notifications each time their bags enter and exit the plane, and one final time when they hit the carousel.
Unlike barcode scanning, which only sends information to the handlers, RFID tags can alert both handlers and customers about the bag's status via a mobile network. Delta says the added transparency will give people more peace of mind.
In addition, numerous luggage manufacturers have equipped their products with RFID tags for the exact purpose Delta recently announced.
There's a questionable price tag for the whole project: $50 million.
As Alissa Walker noted in Gizmodo, Delta's success rate with baggage-handing seems far too high for the airline to invest millions in a solution that would close the gap only slightly.
Reputation may be the biggest thing at stake. Delta was recently voted one of the worst airlines in existence, so that $50 million might go toward an image of being forward-thinking, even if the reality is that most people don't lose their bags anyway.
Once the RFID is fully rolled out, there will be 3,800 tag printers nationwide and 4,600 scanners. There will also be 1,500 scanners on the conveyor belts that load bags on and off planes in an effort to eliminate the need for handlers scanning each bag individually.
Delta says the process already has a 99.9% success rate in its initial deployment. Knowing the airline industry, customers will still find something to complain about.
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