Of all the journey’s stages, bag collection is still the Achilles' heel – the one most likely to leave passengers feeling negative about their trip. That’s why the ability to track bags has become a critical part of enhancing industry operations and achieving the seamless passenger journey.
As air travel grows, there’s pressure for the industry to work together to drive down this number. IATA forecasts that the demand for air travel will rise from around 4 billion to a staggering 7.8 billion between now and 2036.
Airlines, airports and their partners already deal with more than 4.5 billion bags a year. They’ll need to deal with something in the region of over 9 billion. This will put enormous strain on resources and airline infrastructures – without the added issue of mishandled and lost baggage.
Airlines are communicating more about missing baggage information via mobile devices – clearly helped by their efforts to comply with IATA’s Resolution 753 for baggage tracking.
With the industry clearly needing technology to deliver smart end-to-end bag tracking, the race is now on to achieve it, according to SITA’s ‘Air Transport IT Insights 2018’.
The IT Insights research shows that airlines are communicating more about missing baggage information via mobile devices – clearly helped by their efforts to comply with IATA’s Resolution 753 for baggage tracking.
It says that in the context of the IATA Resolution 753, 68% of airlines plan to implement real-time bag tracking information for passengers by 2021.
The research also highlights that 60% of airlines plan to implement information services via mobile apps to passengers for missing baggage and baggage location status updates.
Joining the effort, various luggage and communications specialists have been working on consumer-facing tracking services, including tracking beacons, smart tags and smart bag concepts.
“But few of these innovations can send data to the airline,” points out Peter Drummond, Portfolio Director Baggage at SITA, “and even those developed in partnership with an individual airline still lack the ability to share data with other airlines involved in the passenger’s, and the bag’s, journey.”
While airlines bear the ultimate responsibility for delivering the correct bag to the correct passenger, the airports and ground handlers they work with also need to have the appropriate IT systems and infrastructures in place to support compliance.
The scanning and subsequently documented receipt of arriving baggage will help airports drive down the cost of making baggage reports and running lost bag procedures.
“Successful technology transformation of baggage management demands community-wide collaboration to positively impact the passenger experience,” adds Drummond.
“We all need to find new ways of working and sharing data to upgrade the experience for air travelers and to improve operations.”
Driven by IATA Resolution 753, 68% of airlines plan to implement real-time bag tracking information for passengers by 2021.
That’s why baggage tracking is among a number of accelerated research and innovation programs launched by SITA to address some of the air transport community’s most pressing challenges.
“SITA is working on initiatives to enable the air transport community to scale up tracking capabilities without needing massive capital investment from the community,” says Drummond.
SITA’s BagJourney is central, offering a core platform and a ready-to-go solution to fulfill IATA Resolution 753 in a cost-effective way. That includes data collection free of charge and the ability to quickly integrate the solution using Application Program Interfaces (APIs).
It builds on SITA’s baggage data delivery services and their global coverage, giving a precise picture of a bag’s location, based on harnessing 3.1 billion baggage information messages a year across 250 airports, for 550 airlines. See ‘SITA BagJourney: data management and collection’.
Just some of the airlines who’ve worked with SITA to meet Resolution 753 include Aeroflot, Air India, Etihad, Airports Authority of India, Istanbul New Airport, Kotoka International Airport, and TAP, among others. See ‘Air transport rises to the Resolution’.
“More potential applications for operational data are being explored all the time through working closely with customers,” explains Drummond. “The possibilities include disruption management, providing mishandling information to crew while in-flight, and the proration and validation of mishandling charges.”
Taking advantage of tracking technologies, the SITA Lab has trialed a number of innovations. They include:
Looking ahead, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is looming on the horizon. IATA has committed to developing a standard for using RFID tagging this year. Though roll out is likely to be slow, as new technologies will need to be deployed worldwide, the end result will make it easier for baggage to be tracked and allow passengers to get updates on their bags via an app.
“Beyond that is the promise of Artificial Intelligence (AI),” adds Drummond, “which is expected to revolutionize the management of baggage over the next decade.” According to SITA’s 2018 paper ‘Intelligent Tracking: A Baggage Management Revolution’, AI promises to make mishandled bags an increasingly rare event for passengers globally.
While the immediate focus is on implementing Resolution 753, the bag tracking data generated and collected under the Resolution will give the air transport industry a rich stream of data. We’ll be able to enhance this data with AI tools to create even greater efficiencies in baggage operations and, ultimately, to improve the seamless passenger journey.
“While the immediate focus is on implementing Resolution 753, the bag tracking data generated and collected under the Resolution will give the air transport industry a rich stream of data,” says Drummond. “We’ll be able to enhance this data with AI tools to create even greater efficiencies in baggage operations and, ultimately, to improve the seamless passenger journey.”
“We’re continuing to work collaboratively with the air transport community to deliver intelligent tracking capabilities, as part of an industry-wide approach to help airlines, airports, ground handlers and suppliers to work together in pursuit of a common goal,” he concludes.
SITA’s Air Transport IT Insights 2018 shows encouraging signs of the industry’s commitment to investment in bag tracking and other baggage solutions, as part of a focus on the seamless passenger journey.
For its part, SITA is committed to enabling all of its customers to meet IATA’s Resolution 753 for baggage tracking, through SITA’s BagJourney.
Among the many SITA customers are Aeroflot, which implemented SITA’s BagJourney last year to become the first airline in Russia to provide real-time location information for all the baggage it handles.
“Baggage is such an important area for passengers and through this solution (SITA BagJourney) we will be able to provide them with more certainty on where their bags are at every step of the journey,” said Aeroflot’s Deputy CEO for IT Kirill Bogdanov, at the time.
Turkey’s İGA – the contractor and designated operator of Istanbul New Airport – chose BagJourney for 100% bag tracking in one of the largest infrastructure projects in Turkey's history, and one of world’s largest airports.
From day one, SITA’s baggage solution will provide the IT infrastructure for airlines to track bags at key points in the journey, including check-in, transfer and arrival. Airlines will also be able to receive updates on where their baggage is at each step of the journey.
And in early 2018, the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which manages 126 airports across India, expanded SITA’s baggage management solution to 15 of the country’s key airports.
SITA BagJourney is a ready-to-go solution for a cost-effective way of fulfilling IATA’s Resolution 753. It’s unique in being able to call on global data from SITA’s baggage data delivery services all over the world, including BagMessage and Type-B.
IATA’s Resolution 753 aims to save costs to the industry by reducing the number of lost or delayed bags, while providing a compelling opportunity to improve the passenger experience.
The IATA Baggage Tracking Sub-Group has produced a guide to deploying tracking, including best practices for operations of all sizes.
There are four mandatory tracking points:
It’s about more than compliance – industry benefits
Resolution 753 shouldn’t be perceived as merely a matter of compliance. IATA has identified multiple opportunities for air transport to benefit from tracking. They include:
Airlines recognize that the business case for meeting the resolution is built on improved passengers satisfaction, helped by more accurate and timely information about bags.