The smart use of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to revolutionise the management of baggage over the next decade, making mishandled bags an increasingly rare event for passengers globally, according to a new paper.
SITA’s Intelligent Tracking: A Baggage Management Revolution paper published today found more than 4.5 billion bags are handled by airline and airport baggage systems each year, which will double over the next 20 years as demand for commercial air travel increases.
Through improvements to technology and processes, SITA’s paper found the air transport industry has halved its annual mishandling cost over the past decade from $4.22 billion to $2.1 billion. However, every mishandled bag is one too many and the industry continues to seek ways to reduce the number further.
SITA Air Travel Solutions president, Ilya Gutlin said: “We at SITA believe that harnessing data and AI in a meaningful way will revolutionise how we manage the air transport industry in the next decade.”
The industry’s immediate focus is on implementing the International Air Transport Association’s Resolution 753, which requires member airlines keep track of each bag and share that tracking information with all involved in delivering those bags back to passengers at their destination.
While the resolution will deliver accurate data on the journey undertaken by each and every bag, the industry is already looking beyond the resolution to develop an even more accurate model for baggage operations.
Gutlin said: “The bag tracking data that will be generated and collected under Resolution 753 will provide the air transport industry with a rich stream of data. This can be enhanced with AI tools to create greater efficiencies in baggage operations and, ultimately, to improve our experience as passengers.”
AI will allow airports and airlines to learn what baggage routes cause the most stress on their systems and what factors are most likely to cause them. These systems could also generate insight into the patterns of baggage movements that would enable airlines to deliver bags more effectively.
Using AI, intelligent machines will enable baggage to be autonomously managed from the moment a passenger checks in their bag to when it arrives at the destination – all without human intervention. For example, autonomous loaders could be used to transport bags between the terminal and aircraft. Baggage data will also allow airlines and airports to provide passengers more relevant information on their baggage as it makes its journey from departure to destination.
Gutlin added the digital transformation around baggage is already happening and it will take time, but AI will “unleash the potential” to make baggage operations more service orientated, meaning baggage delivery becomes more secure and enables airports and airlines to deliver tailored baggage services to their passengers.