Emirates Airline is working in partnership with London Heathrow, Dubai International and Hong Kong International airports, to trial the latest RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology in baggage handling.Emirates will be investing close to AED 2 million, to test the effectiveness and benefits of RFID against the existing barcode tracking system. The largest-ever trial of its kind for the airline industry, some half a million bags on Emirates flights will be tagged with RFID chips over the 6-month duration of the trial.
The Dubai-based airline hopes its investment will help revolutionise the way bags are tracked and monitored, and present innovative solutions to handle the increasing volumes of baggage every year as more people around the world use air travel more frequently.
Dale Griffith, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President Airport Services said, “This is about embracing the latest technology for the benefit of our customers, and we are very glad to be able to embark on this extensive trial together with our airport partners. Our investment in this project is a small price to pay to give our customers greater peace of mind.”
“Previous RFID trials by other parties on a smaller scale have shown that the technology almost eliminates scanner ‘misreads’, significantly improving the efficiency of the baggage system and customer experience. We are now applying this on a much larger scale at three major airport hubs, including Emirates’ Dubai home-base, thus allowing the trials to include most possible baggage handling scenarios, including international transit.”
With 58 of the double-decked A380 aircraft entering Emirates’ service, each doubling the number of bags handled per aircraft, the airline is keen to find innovative technologies and new ways to improve baggage handling infrastructure and safeguard the level of trust of its customers.
Mr. Griffith added, “We look forward to sharing the results of this trial with IATA, who we know will be following developments closely. If this trial is as successful as we expect, Emirates will be encouraging airports across its network to embrace this technology. This could become a new industry standard for baggage handling.”
RFID equipment has been installed at some of Emirates’ check-in desks at the three participating airports. During the trial, trained staff will apply tags containing RFID chips to bags as part of the normal check-in process. The chips contain stored information including the bag unique ID number and route. In addition to the embedded RFID chips, these tags will also continue to display the traditional bar code.
The chips are read as they pass through the airport’s baggage system, enabling effective sorting, security screening and delivery to the aircraft. Arriving bags are read on entry to the baggage system and receipted into the system for effective tracking. Essentially, the chips will enable bags to be tracked at every stage of their journey, and minimise the possibilities for mishandling baggage.
In the future, RFID technology could also make it possible for airlines to send a text-message alert to notify passengers the moment that their luggage has arrived on the baggage carousel - meaning customers will have one less thing to worry about as they begin their holiday or business trip.