Research conducted by air transport technology specialist SITA has revealed that tracking bags at check-in and loading helps improve the reliability of baggage delivery by as much as 66%.
To comply with IATA guidelines, an increasing number of airlines and airports have started to introduce tracking at key points in the journey – check-in, loading onto the aircraft, transfers and arrival – to improve baggage management and further reduce the chances of a bag being mishandled.
SITA’s Baggage IT Insights 2019 report provides the first glimpse of the success of this tracking. It reveals that where bags were being tracked when loaded onto the aircraft, the rate of improvement ranged between 38% and 66% depending on the level of tracking introduced.
Peter Drummond, director of baggage at SITA, said, “While the mishandling rate has started to plateau over the past few years, this comes against a continued growth in passenger numbers and their bags.
“In 2018, 4.36 billion travelers checked in more than 4.27 billion bags, which makes things more challenging. Everyone across the industry needs to look beyond the process and technology improvements made in the past decade and adopt the latest technology such as tracking to make the next big cut in the rate of mishandled bags.”
The rate of mishandled bags has remained steady at around 5.7 bags per thousand passengers over the past three years. In 2018, the rate was 5.69 per thousand passengers.
Ahmed Juma Al Shamsi, acting chief operations officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, said, “Baggage tracking is fundamental to driving more accurate bag delivery not only at Abu Dhabi International Airport but across the entire passenger journey. We have led the way with the introduction of tracking on arrival and we have already seen significant improvements.”
Transferring baggage from one aircraft, or airline, to another remains a pinch point in the journey and in 2018 it was again the main reason for bags being mishandled. Transfer bags accounted for 46% of all mishandled bags.
Drummond added, “Transfer is by far the most difficult stage to track a bag as there are multiple airlines and airports involved. However, data from this year’s report shows that tracking at key points in the journey, such as transfers, will go a long way to eliminating mishandling and will allow airlines and their passengers to keep tabs on where their bags are at every step of the way.”
Over the past decade, total number of mishandled bags per annum has plummeted 47% from 46.9 million in 2007 to 24.8 million in 2018, while the annual bill footed by the industry has shrunk 43% to US$2.4bn, down from US$4.22bn in 2007.