Buying goods online is part of daily life. As is the ability to track the goods’ transit from distant shores to your home. If that can be done for hundreds of millions of packages – most of them sent by air – why can’t it be done for airline baggage?
Why can’t I use my smartphone to keep tabs on my baggage while I’m traveling, just as I can to keep tabs on my latest purchase from that luxury leather goods company deep in the Italian countryside?
Despite baggage mishandling rates falling by more than 61% since 2007 – saving around US$ 18 billion – lost and misdirected bags still represent one of the key pain points for the passenger, and a needless waste of money to the industry.
So millions of passengers will doubtless be pleased to learn that the increased control they have over most aspects of their travel arrangements is now being extended to include baggage.
Before IATA’s Resolution 753 becomes effective in June 2018, 81% of airlines expect to offer travelers the ability to use mobile devices to track their baggage.
Follow that bag!
For passengers flying UAE’s national airline Etihad, that day is getting nearer. The airline is launch customer for SITA’s BagJourney service, providing a cost-effective and accurate means of tracking passengers’ bags anywhere along the journey. The service is estimated to save US$ 0.11 per passenger.
Powered by the ATI Cloud, BagJourney uses baggage information messages (BIMs) passing through the message and distribution service BagMessage and provides the data to Etihad using a web API.
For example, it will define if the bag is checked in, sorted, through security, loaded into a container, re-flighted, and re-loaded. The information can then be shared with the airline’s crew and airport staff. In time, the same information will be available to passengers so they can follow their bags through a smartphone app.
More than 200 airports and 500 airlines use BagMessage, with the volume of data generated growing at almost 20% a year. BagJourney frees up use of this data.
Crucially, the service is also integrated with SITA’s global lost baggage tracking service, WorldTracer®, used at more than 2,800 airport locations. By scanning the baggage claim receipt, a complete record of the bag’s progress can be recovered, enabling rapid repatriation.
More touch-points – better service
Etihad Airways’ Chief Information and Technology Officer, Robert Webb welcomes the introduction of BagJourney. “We are always looking for ways to improve the guest experience, and we know that delayed luggage is a major pain point,” he says.
“SITA’s BagJourney now lets us follow bags through every stage of a guest’s travels, which helps reduce mishandling and delays – and unnecessary costs.”
Etihad’s approach to the use of BagJourney is given more detail by the airline’s Senior Technology Manager Abe Dev.
“We’ve been investing in new technology to develop a better service, and with BagJourney we can now track a bag from the start of its journey to its last seen location."
“We can also provide the latest tracking information to the crew while they’re on the move via SITA’s CrewTablet. The more touch-points we can bring into use, the better the service – so we’re looking to spread this to outstations and baggage teams in offices worldwide.”
“We’re also exploring how we can use the data to enhance our analytics and reporting tools,” adds Dev, “so we can identify any adverse trends or issues before they become a problem.
“But the optimum benefit is dependent on the quality of the data we get from an expanding range of sources, including departure control systems, as well as third party baggage reconciliation and handling systems."
“If we’re going to succeed in knowing where any bag is at any time within our network, we need collaboration from all of the stakeholders involved.”
BagJourney ensures airlines can be ‘resolution-ready’. But also, thanks to the data it generates, it’s able to deliver a great deal of extra intelligence.
Nick Gates, Director, Baggage Portfolio, SITA
Closer to zero?
Commenting on the major changes heralded by Resolution 753 and the launch of BagJourney, SITA’s Nick Gates, Director Baggage Portfolio, says: “According to our own Baggage Report, the rate of mishandled bags had fallen to 7.3 bags per thousand passengers last year – against a peak of 18.8 bags per thousand in 2007.
“But with increased use of self-service bag drop and, critically, air traffic expected to double in the period 2014-2030 (Airbus figures), we have to find ways of moving that figure closer to zero.
“That may be a task too far, but if we can track bags to the extent that we know where they are in the system at any one time, then we’re a long way down that road."
“IATA’s Resolution 753 has set the challenge. BagJourney is meeting that challenge, ensuring airlines can be ‘resolution-ready’. But also, thanks to the data it generates, it’s able to deliver a great deal of extra intelligence to airlines and airports for use in planning future strategies.”