Alaska Airlines is launching an electronic bag tag that it says is a first-of-its-kind innovation for a U.S. airline.
The program is set to kick off sometime later this year with 2,500 of the airline’s frequent flyers and then Mileage Plan members getting the option to purchase the device starting next year.
How it works is that Alaska flyers will get an electronic bag tag that they will be able to attach to their luggage ahead of travel. The tags were created with help from Dutch company BAGTAG and are durable enough to withstand being run over by a luggage cart, Alaska said, and come with an industrial strength plastic zip tie to fix them to luggage.
Flyers will be able to activate the tags from anywhere, up to 24 hours before travel, through the Alaska Airlines mobile app simply by tapping their phone to the tag once they have checked in for their flight.
Once activated, the bag tag will display all the flight information that is typically shown on a paper bag tag from the airport and will function the exact same way. The tags do not require batteries, either, so guests who purchase them can expect them to last.
Just like mobile check-in drastically changed the airport experience, Alaska is hoping that the electronic bag tag program will do the same—reduce time spent at the airport. According to Alaska’s senior vice president of merchandising and innovation Charu Jain, the carrier expects the time needed to drop off checked luggage to go down by 40% (a pilot program at Alaska’s tech hub at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose Airport found that the luggage drop off would take three minutes or less).
"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 Jain.
"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."