British Airways Launching Electronic Baggage Tags in January

Dec 16, 2018

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Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to get a new checked bag tag each time you fly? British Airways is working to make paper baggage tags a thing of the past. And according to the December edition of BA’s Business Life magazine, the airline will be launching electronic bag tags in January 2019.

However, that’s the only source reporting this info so far. The entirety of the British Airways digital bag tag webpage still reads: “Digital bag tag… coming soon…”

This electronic bag tag roll out has been a long time coming. British Airways first announced passenger trials of electronic baggage tags back in 2013 — after having already completed “comprehensive testing.” At the time, trial participants used Nokia phones for the test and the baggage tags were supposed to have a battery life of five years — meaning that they’d have run out of power by now.

From the 2013 announcement, the airline explains the process would work as follows:

Customers on the trial will use their Nokia Lumia Windows Phone to check in, chose their seat and obtain their mobile boarding pass. Each will be equipped with a specially adapted version of the British Airways app, which automatically updates the digital bag tag with a unique barcode, containing new flight details and an easy-to-see view of their bag’s destination – just by holding the mobile phone over it.

They can then save precious time by quickly dropping their bag off at a dedicated bag drop desk, before going straight through security to relax before their flight, without the need for a new paper tag to be printed and secured.

Since electronic baggage tags are a solution that will save the airline money and resources, you might think BA would be excited to give away these tags to its frequent travelers. But, that’s not the case. Instead, passengers will have to cough up £60 (US$76) to purchase the tag — which Business Life magazine refers to as “affordable and accessible (especially if you’re able to expense it as part of your business travel costs).”

This isn’t too surprising coming from an airline that’s cutting costs and trying to raise revenue wherever it can. However, it’s a rather shortsighted decision as the not-cheap price is sure to keep many potential users from adopting the new technology.

The only large airline that’s been successful in getting electronic baggage tag adoption is Qantas, which launched its “Q Bag Tag” in 2011. Qantas flyers also have to purchase the tag themselves, but the tags are priced at A$30 (US$22) each or A$50 (US$36) for two. That makes BA’s electronic bag tag prices three to four times more expensive than Qantas.

H/T: Business Traveller

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