Alaska Airlines announced on Tuesday it's poised to become the first U.S. airline to launch an electronic bag tag program later this year.
"This technology allows our guests to tag their own bags in just seconds and makes the entire check-in process almost all off-airport," said Charu Jain, senior vice-president of merchandising and innovation for Alaska Airlines. "Not only will travelers with the devices be able to quickly drop-off their luggage, our electronic bag tags will help also reduce lines in our lobbies and give our employees the opportunity to spend more one-on-one time with guests who ask for assistance."
The electronic bag tags will allow guests to skip the step of printing traditional bag tags upon arrival at the airport. Instead, guests will be able to activate the devices from anywhere – their home, office or car – up to 24-hours before their flight using the Alaska Airlines mobile app.
The activation is done by simply touching the phone used for check-in to the electronic bag tag, which has an antenna that powers and reads the information transmitted from the phone. The e-paper bag tag's screen will then display the guest's flight information.
Jain expects Alaska Airline's electronic bag tag will reduce the time guests spend dropping-off checked luggage by 40%. For example, a guest flying through Alaska Airline's tech hub at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, could drop off their luggage at the self-bag drop in three minutes or less.
"Alaska Airlines is the first U.S. airline to pioneer this innovative electronic bag tag program here at SJC," said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo. "This program will modernize the check-in process and provide a more sustainable option for travelers."
"Our electronic bag tags will not require batteries and are durable enough to potentially last a lifetime," said Jain.
Rollout of the electronic bag tags will happen in several phases. The first phase will initially include 2,500 Alaska Airlines' frequent fliers who will begin using the electronic bag tags in late 2022. Mileage Plan members will have the option to purchase the devices starting in early 2023.
Alaska Airlines is partnering with Dutch company BAGTAG on the electronic bag tag. The devices are equipped with durable screens that have been tested to withstand being run over a luggage cart and are affixed to baggage just like any other bag tag, using an industrial strength plastic zip tie.
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