Qatar Airways is now offering reusable electronic bagtags to its passengers.
Passengers buy or receive the electronic device – about the size of a smart phone and attach it to their bag.
At check-in they transfer their baggage details to the device by touching an NFC device to the bag with the device. The electronic bagtag then acts like a traditional paper tag.
The main benefits are that passengers can avoid kiosks at the terminal and that airlines and airports can save a lot of paper bagtags.
How it works
Passengers on Qatar Airways operated flights check in on the airline’s app.
They receive the airline’s bagtag on their mobile.
They then transfer their details to an electronic bag tag attached to their bags by tapping their NFC phone to the bagtag.
Passengers receive a confirmation e-mail that the bag was successfully checked in and labelled.
Then they scan the device at a self-service bag-drop point or check-in desk without needing to print a paper tag.
Will it work?
Although electronic bag tags have been around for more than a decade they are little used. Indeed Alaska originally started a trial of electronic bag tags in 2016.
What are electronic bag tags?
The electronic bag tags enable passengers to tag their bags through the airline’s mobile app before they reach the airport.
The device is about the size of a smart phone with a durable screen. The screen shows the bag tag details including the bar code. It doesn’t need charging or batteries.
Passengers attach the device to a bag just like a traditional tag. They can remove it and attach it to a different bag for future flights.
The electronic bag tag has two main differences from the other types of bagtag:
- it is reusable (possibly for a lifetime)
- it costs (probably a one off charge)
The big benefit is that passengers can attach the tag at home or anywhere before getting to the airport and so avoid the self tagging at the airport hassle.
Self tagging at an airport can be a slow, tedious and complicated process that actually increases check-in time.
My personal experience is that it can take up to 3 minutes depending on the kiosk questions and the format of the paper bagtag. Especially how difficult it is to attach the thing to the bag,
Qatar Airways is partnering with Dutch company BAGTAG on the electronic bag tag program.
Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian, Air Dolomiti (all part of Lufthansa Group), China Southern and KLM curently use BAGTAG.
N.B. Image credit: Qatar Airlines