We’ve reported here before about the increased use of RFID chips in checked luggage and luggage tags to tilt the odds that your bag will arrive with you at your final destination in your favor. There have been new innovations in the effort to reduce lost bags, this time from Delta. Once you see what they’ve been doing, you may never look at those little paper baggage tags the same again.
This year, Delta has implemented RFID technology into its complimentary baggage tags, eliminating the possibility of a bag being unscanned due to a smudged, wrinkled, torn, or obscured tag. Now, in every airport where Delta operates, its bags only need to be be in proximity to the radio scanners to be accounted for. As with the older tags, fliers can track their checked bags using Delta’s mobile app.
Implementing these kinds of changes can be costly and disruptive because they require infrastructure adjustments. While some airports, such as Las Vegas’ McCarren International Airport, have been using RFID for over a decade, any new tracking system is typically the responsibility of the individual airline.
Delta spent $50 million on the system, which included scanners, printers, and said tags. Widespread use of these types of tags has been slow to come online in the airline industry, according to the International Air Travel Association. But the deadline for all 265 member airlines to be able to fully track and trace all bags is 2018. And the system is expected to work, not only on an airline’s own flights, but also connecting flights with another carrier.
It’s the last thing you want to have happen when you’re traveling: your bag doesn’t show up at the baggage carousel. It has an immediate impact on your psyche, not to mention your itinerary.
But if the airline loses or mishandles your bag, there are a few steps you can and should take before you ever leave the airport, and a couple steps to take before you ever even get there.
We want to say this upfront: above all, don’t vent your frustration on the person at the lost luggage counter
Next, before you ever get to the airport, pack your essentials in your carry-on: your medication, laptop, papers for your presentation, and anything else you can’t afford to be without. I once read a story that involved a woman whose lost bag included her laptop with a sales presentation she was to give the next day. She got her bag back in time, but we couldn’t help wonder, why would you ever relinquish control of the most important part of your trip?
Even with his vivid imagination, Leonardo Da Vinci, recognized for inventing the world’s first robot, could never have envisioned this application for his creation. Or that it would be used in coordination with another of his inventions, the flying machine.
Yet here we are, as Geneva Airport has been trying the world’s first fully autonomous, self-propelling baggage robot to assist travelers with their luggage. Working in collaboration with Swiss telecommunications company SITA and BlueBotics, a robotics company specializing in Autonomous Navigation Technology (ANT), the company has named their robot “Leo,” after the famed Italian inventor and artist.
Leo can check in luggage, print baggage tags, and transport the luggage to its designated baggage handling area using information gathered by scanning passengers’ boarding passes. After the bags are loaded into the robot’s compartment, Leo displays the boarding gate and departure time to the travelers. No one other than a baggage handler can reopen the compartment once it departs for its designated destination.
Massimo Gentile, head of IT at the airport, sees great potential for use of robots in the future. He told FutureTravelExperience.com, “The use of a robot such as Leo limits the number of bags in the airport terminal, helping us accommodate a growing number of passengers without compromising the airport experience inside the terminal. Leo also proves the case for increased use of robotics to make passengers’ journey a little more comfortable.”
Dave Bakker, president of the European division of SITA, agreed. “Leo demonstrates that robotics hold the key to more effective, secure and smarter baggage handling and is a major step towards further automating bag handling in airports. Leo also provides some insight into the potential use of robots across the passenger journey in future,” he told FutureTravelExperience.com
While some kinks remain to be worked out, such as scalability of the entire system, the capacity, both in size and weight that the robot can carry, and how it navigates in snowy conditions, this trial at Geneva’s airport makes it clear that ANT robotic assistance is here to stay.
What do you think? Would you trust a luggage-carrying robot with your bag? Or would you prefer to check your bag yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.
Photo credit: SITA (Used with permission)
For some people, curbside check-in is a relic of the past that has somehow been overlooked in airport modernization. However, those of us in the know realize that the convenience and service make it the best little-known perk many travelers aren’t taking advantage of!
For example, when I check my Crew 11 25-inch Spinner, I thoroughly enjoy the full-service process. There’s rarely a line deeper than one or two people, the skycaps are always helpful, all I have to do is present my driver’s license and credit card, and in seconds my boarding pass and bag tag are printed and I’m on my way straight to the security checkpoint.
The service can also be used to check bags that have already been accounted for during the online check-in process. Either way, the inside check-in lines are almost always longer, increasing the amount of time it will take you to get through security and to your gate.
(An interesting side note: according to Wikipedia, the skycap service evolved as commercial airline travel became more popular. Travelers were already used to redcaps — the porters who handled luggage on trains — and expected similar service at the airport.)
The demographic of those who utilize the convenience of curbside check-in falls into roughly three categories. 1) People traveling with small children may have carseats and strollers as well as luggage, so curbside allows them to offload all but the essentials for the trek to the gate. 2) People who are in a hurry use curbside as a way to minimize wait times, especially if they’re running late. And 3) people with mobility issues find that only having to maneuver their bags from the car to the skycap — who most likely will help with their bags, if asked — is the best way to navigate the airport.
Technology is changing all aspects of our lives, from how we communicate to how we work to how we watch TV. Even our travel is benefitting from new technological advances.
In fact, technological and engineering advances top the list of coming travel-related improvements. DestinationTips.com recently published 15 new travel advances we can expect to see, and we picked out a few of our favorites.
If you have a smartphone, you’ll be especially jazzed by what you can do with that ever-expanding, multi-tasking device.
Hilton and Marriott are in the process of updating the mechanisms that lock their guest rooms so travelers can unlock the door using their smartphone. By simply downloading an app when you check in, your phone acts as a key, and you have one less thing to keep track of during your visit.
Does the “last in, first out” rule apply to airline luggage the same way it does a bus or elevator?
The short answer is “No,” and Yahoo Travel explores why this luggage myth is just that.
The author, Christine Sarkis, asked Delta about baggage delivery, after spending a rather anxious time waiting to retrieve her bag on an international flight to check it back in again for her domestic trip.
The answer? Luggage is distributed into the hold based on weight rather than when it’s checked in. When the luggage is loaded, it’s all done up in a very scientific fashion to help balance out the plane’s load.
In fact, for large planes, the luggage is loaded into “cans” (big boxes), which are loaded onto the plane to spread the weight out evenly. While it’s not completely random, your bag could be in any of those cans, depending on the total weight of each can.
Smaller planes practice “loose loading,” which means they load the luggage into the hold based on weight. They work to get the balance right, so even then, there’s no LIFO to the bags.
We’re very curious about exactly how this works and would love to get an insider tour of how the baggage handling process works, but when we asked a Travelpro team member to ride in a bag with a GoPro camera, he said no.
Meanwhile, we would be thrilled to hear any insider stories from baggage handlers or even be invited along on a luggage handling tour.
When it comes down to it, says Christine Sarkis, the only two ways to get your baggage more quickly is to fly business or first class or to carry it on yourself, in which case all you have to do is reach up into the overhead bin to retrieve your precious cargo. This is also a great way of ensuring that you don’t lose your luggage.
Do you have any other tips for retrieving your luggage faster on a trip? Let us hear from you. Leave your tips in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.
- 4 Tips to Never Losing Your Luggage Again (travelproluggageblog.com)
- First Person POV Of Checked Baggage At An Airport (geekologie.com)
- This Is What Actually Happens To Your Checked Luggage In The Airport! (sun-gazing.com)
One of the worst things about airline travel — other than having the person in front of you lean their seat back on your knees — is waiting for your bag to arrive on the baggage carousel. While we normally encourage people to take carry-on bags, that’s not always an option.
So when Delta Airlines said they would deliver domestic passengers’ bags to the luggage carousel within 20 minutes, we took notice.
Their new policy went into effect in February, and although it was originally just a trial run, they’ve since made it a permanent policy.
The feedback from travelers was positive, and it has been a great way for Delta to differentiate itself among the pack. The established airlines tend to be fairly similar, so this has been a good way for Delta to stand out and get some positive buzz.
Knowing your bags will be delivered within a short, 20 minute window makes the baggage retrieval process a lot more bearable and may encourage more people to check bags, something the airline would prefer as they get more fees and fewer headaches than dealing with the carry-on luggage nightmares.
Plus, it’s a good way to encourage travelers to join Delta’s frequent flier program, because members will get a 2, 500 point bonus if their wait for luggage exceeds the 20 minutes.
It’s an interesting promise, and we definitely like it. We wonder how many bonus miles they’ll hand out, especially in the beginning. It offers security and comfort to passengers who may feel that airlines are mainly out to gouge money out of them through new fees.
Will you take advantage of Delta’s new 20 minute policy? Leave us a comment or head over on our Facebook page and discuss it over there.
Not too long ago, the airline industry was struggling to keep its head above water. In the last decade alone, over a dozen airlines have filed bankruptcy, while others (such as American Airlines) opted to take drastic cost-cutting measures. Within the last five years, however, the majority of US-based airlines have found one simple way to increase their profit margin – and the numbers will shock you.
If you’ve flown anywhere within the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that it’s become increasingly difficult to avoid getting hit with additional fees. This phenomenon began in 2008, when American Airlines found themselves struggling with rising oil prices. Their solution: instead of raising ticket prices, they decided to start charging an additional fee for checked baggage. Within months, other domestic airlines followed suit and today, checked baggage fees have become the norm. Today, most US-based airlines charge about $25 per checked bag (or $50 round trip).
This year alone, the global airline industry is expected to clear a profit of $1.27 billion. If you think that sounds pretty high, you’re right — in fact, that’s a 67% increase from 2012.
Interestingly, this number has little to do with an increase in ticket sales; instead, it has a lot to do with fees. In fact, additional fees (such as baggage fees and penalties for changing flight times) account for $36 billion last year alone, and according to the International Air Transport Association, that number is expected to “grow significantly” this year.
But does that increase in global revenue really impact individual airlines? Yes, and you may be surprised as to what degree. Take US Airways for example. In 2007, they raked in $27.7 million in baggage fees alone. In 2012, they raked in $516.2 million, resulting in a whopping 1761% increase. Frontier Airlines has had similarly impressive results. They saw a 1419.6% increase in revenue from baggage fees between 2007 and 2012. Out of all major US-based airlines, Delta Air Lines raked in the most revenue from baggage fees — a cool $865.9 million in 2012 alone.
Airlines around the world have begun to take note of these numbers and are beginning to charge additional fees as well. Between 2011 and 2012, UK-based airlines raised their baggage fees by as much as 67%, which, as the (London) Daily Telegraph points out, is 24 times the rate of inflation. In addition, many UK-based airlines have begun to increase other fees – for example, several airlines opted to raise the fee for traveling with an infant.
No matter where you live, one thing’s for certain: “budget flights” may certainly become a thing of the past, so you need to get used to paying fees, or finding ways around them.
There has been plenty of buzz this year about how airlines and airports are modernizing their service to customers by offering free wifi, customer service via social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and upscale shopping experiences. Now, United Airlines is partnering with BagsVIP to offer a luggage delivery service for domestic flights.
For a starting price of $30 per bag, United/BagsVIP will deliver your bags to a hotel, business, or residential address, seven days a week, including holidays. If your arrival destination is within 40 miles from the airport, the service says you will receive your bags within 4 hours of your flight arrival.The service is fairly easy to use: after making your flight reservations, just make a separate reservation for your baggage delivery. At the airport, check your bags as you usually would, but don’t forget that you still have to pay for any associated fees. When your bags arrive at their final destination, BagsVIP will be alerted and within four hours, your bags will be delivered to you. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to sign for them once they get there.
Even though many of us don’t mind waiting around for a bag or two after a flight, United’s luggage delivery service could certainly come in handy for many of us. A business traveler on a tight schedule, a family with a lot of bags and kids to corral, or an elderly person traveling alone could all easily find value from this luggage delivery service.
- Travel smartly with United airlines (articlecoin.wordpress.com)
Arriving at your destination with your bags intact and containing everything you packed is every air traveler’s goal.
The Travel Goods Association recently published an article featuring tips for accomplishing that goal. Among their recommendations were:
- Avoid putting the following in checked baggage:
- Valuables (cash, jewelry). Don’t rely on suitcase locks; they are easily defeated.
- Critical items (medicine, keys, passport, tour vouchers, business papers).
- Irreplaceable items (manuscript, heirlooms).
- Fragile items (camera, eyeglasses, glass containers). If these must be checked, wrap them carefully in padding.
- If you wish to lock your bags, see tsa.gov for information on locks that security personnel can open and then re-lock. If you use an unapproved lock and your bag is selected for inspection, the security staff will break the lock if necessary.
- Don’t overpack checked bags. This puts pressure on the latches, making it easier for them to spring open.
- Put a tag on the outside of your baggage with your name, home address, and home and work phone numbers.
- When carrying on luggage, always check with the airline for any limits it has on the size, weight, or number of carry-on bags. There is no single federal standard, although Travelpro® luggage is made to fit most airlines’ standards.
The issue of not packing valuables and other irreplaceable items in checked baggage has become trickier since the airlines began assessing fees for checked bags. These fees have prompted more passengers to carry on their luggage, often outstripping overhead bin capacity, especially when the plane is full.
This has resulted in increased requests by worried airline gate personnel for travelers to “gate check” (the checking of a bag at the gate just prior to boarding) their Rollaboard® luggage to proactively address the lack of overhead bin space.
From the airlines’ perspective, lack of overhead bin space causes potential conflict between passengers and slow boarding. Obviously, a passenger who planned to carry on their valuables may by faced with the prospect of their prized possessions being stowed in the baggage compartment.
The best approach for avoiding unplanned gate checks is to either leave your valuables at home, or pack them in a small carry-on that will easily fit under your seat (avoiding the congested overhead bins altogether).The challenges of air travel never cease. Staying informed (and equipped with Travelpro Rollaboards) is the best way to meet those challenges.
- How to beat the airlines’ baggage restrictions (confused.com)
- Lost luggage a plague on travellers (autonetinsurance.co.uk)
- How to protect luggage from thieves (seattletimes.nwsource.com)