Alaska Airlines will let passengers use digital bag tags to save time and paper

Alaska Airlines says it is becoming the first US-based airline to offer support for electronic bag tags, small programmable devices with e-paper displays designed to replace the paper tags currently in use . It plans to launch the new program in phases, and it will initially be focused at San Jose Airport in California. The airline will initially offer 2,500 tags free of cost to its frequent passengers from the airport at the end of 2022. techcrunch reports, and they will be available for purchase by Mileage Plan members next year.

Alaska Airlines intends to cut down on the time its customers spend on flight admins at the airport. Instead of printing the luggage tag in person, they can set up the electronic bag tag at home when they check in on the mobile app. Then, when customers arrive at San Jose Airport, they can use the self-service Bag Drop without having to print a new tag. Overall, Alaska Airlines expects customers to cut baggage check time at the airport by up to 40 percent.

BagTag is the manufacturer behind electronic tags, which are already used by other airlines outside the US, including Air Dolomiti, Austrian, China Southern, Lufthansa and Swiss. The Flex model that Alaska Airlines appears to be using is programmed over NFC by placing an iPhone or Android handset next to the tag to transmit the required information. BagTag advertises that the tag is “battery-less” and never needs to be recharged, unlike the previous version of the technology that Alaska Airlines began testing in 2015.

“This technology allows our guests to tag their bags in seconds and makes the entire check-in process virtually all off-airport,” said Charu Jain, senior vice president of merchandising and innovation in Alaska. “Not only will our electronic bag tags allow our guests to quickly drop off their luggage once they arrive at the airport, the devices will also give our staff the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with guests seeking assistance and in our lobby. Minimize the lines.”

Arguably, the tags are also saved on paper that would need to be used to make traditional tags, although I imagine you would have to use an electronic tag hundreds of times to make it more resource efficient. At a minimum they are designed to be rugged with an IP65 rating and a testing process for dust and water resistance techcrunch Reportedly driving luggage carts, catering trucks, and jet bridge wheels to see if they would break (they didn’t).

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