IATA: RFID baggage tracking set for global deployment

posted on 5th June 2019 by Justin Burns

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 75th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Seoul this week unanimously resolved to support the global deployment of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for baggage tracking.

The AGM also called for the implementation of modern baggage messaging standards to more accurately track passengers’ baggage in real time across key points in the journey.

In 2018, less than 0.06 per cent of the estimated 4.3 billion bags carried by airlines were mishandled, according to the latest figures from SITA. Since 2007 baggage mishandling has fallen by 70 per cent and today 99.9 per cent of mishandled bags are reunited with their owners within two days.

IATA said RFID read rates are 99.98 per cent accurate which is significantly better than that of bar codes. And modern messaging standards will enable airlines to proactively take action when there is potential for mishandling. Combined, RFID and modern messaging standards, should reduce the mishandling rate by 25 per cent.

“Passengers want to arrive with their bags. And on the rare occasion when that does not happen, they want to know exactly where their bag is.

“Deploying RFID and adopting modern baggage messaging standards will help us to cut mishandlings by a quarter and recover bags that are mishandled more quickly,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer.

The resolution commits airlines to: transition to bar-coded bag tags with RFID inlays and use RFID data alerts to enact processes with airports and ground handlers that prevent potential mishandlings.

The resolution does not specify timelines. IATA said it is anticipated, however, that global adoption of RFID could be achieved within four years.

The association said partnerships are critical to success in driving this transformation and the resolution calls for airports to rapidly incorporate the use of RFID technology for baggage handling into their infrastructure, and to commence implementation of modern baggage messaging standards.

The resolution also call on ground handlers to make use of RFID technology to replace manual tracking operations wherever feasible.

“Implementating RFID tracking technology and adopting modern messaging standards is a team effort. Airlines, airports and ground handlers need to work together. And the motivation is to satisfy customers,” said de Juniac.