Bag tracking drives improvement in baggage delivery

Border Management Update - April 24, 2019

Luggage tracking
Luggage at airport. Source: Billy Hathorn/Wikipedia

Launched at an event at Abu Dhabi International Airport today, the SITA 2019 Baggage IT Insights show that those airlines that are adding tracking at more points of the baggage journey are enjoying big improvements in bag delivery. According to the report, where tracking is done at check-in and loading onto the aircraft, the rate of improvement is as high as 66 percent.

Tracking leads to mishandling decrease

According to a SITA media release, the baggage mishandling rate 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.

Over the past year, an increasing number of airlines and airports have commenced introducing tracking at key points in the journey, including 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 research provides the first glimpse of the success of this tracking, revealing that where bags were being tracked when loaded onto the aircraft, the rate of improvement ranged between 38 and 66 percent depending on the level of tracking.

“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,” Peter Drummond, Director of Baggage at SITA, said. “In 2018, 4.36 billion travellers checked in more than 4.27 billion bags.”

“More bags 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.”

Long term decrease in baggage mishandling

“For our passengers the timely delivery of baggage is key to ensuring a seamless passenger experience and therefore an area in which we continue to make further improvements,” said Ahmed Juma Al Shamsi, Acting Chief Operations Officer at Abu Dhabi Airports.

“Looking forward, 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 point of weakness, and in 2018 it was the main reason for bags being mishandled. Transfer bags accounted for 46 percent of all mishandled bags.

Reasons for delayed bags

“Transfer is by far the most difficult stage to track a bag as there are multiple airlines and airports involved,” Drummond added. “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, the total number of mishandled bags per annum has plummeted 47 percent from 46.9 million in 2007 to 24.8 million in 2018, while the annual bill footed by the industry has shrunk 43 percent to $2.4 billion.

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