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Alaska Airlines to Launch Electronic Bag Tag Program

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DALLAS – A trial program for Alaska Airlines’ (AS) new electronic bag tags for luggage check-in is scheduled to begin later this year.

Alaska Airlines says the electronic bag tags will allow passengers to skip the step of printing traditional bag tags at the airport. Travelers will be able to activate the devices from anywhere—their home, office, or even car—up to 24 hours before their flight through our mobile app. 

So in short, using electronic tags is comparable to virtual check-in and receiving a mobile boarding pass as opposed to needing to print one out at the airport, with the exception that this requires a tangible item to show the tag information.

In a statement published on Tuesday, the airline said that this technological advancement to the standard label-printing procedure is anticipated to save the time a customer generally spends dropping off luggage by over 40%.

MicrosoftTeams-image-6.webpPhoto: Alaska Airlines

How Do the Luggage Tags Work?

A reusable electronic tag with a digital screen will be handed to each pilot group passenger. This tag can be activated 24 hours prior to a flight via the Alaska mobile app. Upon activation by touching the phone, the e-paper bag tag’s screen will then display the guest’s flight information. 

The electronic bag tag, which employs a near-field communication antenna to read and display the information provided from the phone, would be activated by the passenger after checking in for their flight on the app. This antenna may be beneficial in airports with automated baggage sorting systems, according to GeekWire.

The screen will have a barcode and airport details, and it will look like a conventional printed tag. Passengers might potentially spend less time in airport lobby lines by just showing their boarding pass and ID to an airline representative and dropping off their pre-checked and tagged bag after having both items available.

Since 2015, AS has been testing several iterations of this technology.

220126_sjc_biometric_08.webpPhoto: Alaska Airlines

When Will It Be Available?

Most passengers will have to wait until next year to use the tags, which may appear particularly enticing to travelers trying to avoid some of the massive delays and lost luggage concerns that have plagued airports thus far this summer.

However, a pool of Mileage Plan elites who frequently use the San Jose International Airport in California will be used to choose the first 2,500 frequent flyers to receive the service, according to AS and TechCrunch .

Other Mileage Plan members will be given the option to purchase the devices early next year, which GeekWire says will cost around $70. A senior software engineer on the project told TechCrunch the tags are designed to “last a lifetime,” made of plastic that has been put through stress tests, including being run over by airport machinery ranging from luggage cards to jet bridge wheels. 

Comments from Alaska Airlines

“This technology allows our guests to tag their own bags in just seconds and makes the entire check-in process almost all off-airport,” said Charu Jain, senior vice president of merchandising and innovation at Alaska.”

Not only will our electronic bag tags allow our guests to quickly drop-off their luggage after they arrive at the airport, the devices will also give our employees the opportunity to spend more one-on-one time with guests who ask for assistance and reduce lines at our lobbies,” says Jain.  

Featured image: Alaska Airlines

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