British Airways is testing “smart tags” - baggage labels fitted with computer chips which communicate through a high-tech radio system - to speed up the delivery and transfer of passengers` luggage and reduce the risk of lost suitcases.
The smart baggage tags, complete with an antenna and a pinhead-sized silicon chip embedded in the label, will be tested using up to 225,000 bags on flights travelling from Manchester and Munich to London`s Heathrow Terminal 1 in a two-month trial.
This is the first time a disposable paper radio frequency baggage tag has been tested by any airline worldwide.
The trial will test whether the “smart tags” are a better way for the airline to keep track of precisely where each bag is in highly complex airport baggage handling systems, reducing the risk of luggage being misplaced or delayed.
If the radio frequency identification technology proves to be a success, British Airways will introduce it across its network and encourage all airlines to switch to smart labels. At present, airlines use a laser bar code system to identify and track baggage.
The trial is the latest stage in a process conducted by British Airways to speed up the transfer and delivery of passengers` baggage and reduce the number of bags which go astray.
Mike Street, British Airways` Director of Customer Service and Operations, said: “These high tech smart labels have the potential to speed up the sorting, transfer and delivery of bags and that means a better service for our customers.
“The present method of sorting and directing bags using the laser bar code has served the airline industry well since 1990. However greater volumes of bags and the distances bags have to move at large airports now demands new technology.
“In the future, the rare unpleasant experience of arriving at a destination and finding that your bags have not arrived at the same time could be a thing of the past.”