Why Track Bags

Why Track Bags

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RFID Baggage Tracking in Action

By now everyone who handles bags, plans operations, takes a flight, works in aviation or has an internet connection should know about IATA Resolution 753.

It is a simple resolution that says airlines must track bags at key locations and share that data with their interline partners. What very few people ask is “why should we track bags?”. That is great, because it means everyone knows why we have to track bags. However, many people don’t realize the power of the information that that must collect. So here is a quick summary:

  • It helps you avoid mishandling if you use the data proactively
  • It allows you to know how many bags you are expecting
  • It allows airlines to know what delivered to the reclaim at the end of the journey
  • It allows you a good set of data for operations planning
  • It allows you to start an analysis of baggage operations for machine learning
  • It allows you to build trust with your passengers
  • It allows you to show that you are a capable airline / airport / ground handler
  • It allows you to measure and show service level metrics
  • It allows you to measure and improve customer service for baggage
  • It enables faster IrOps recovery
  • … and if you feel like it, you can tell the passenger where their bag is.

None of this is easy

Read that list again. None of that is actually about tracking the bag. It is all about having the data and using it appropriately. I had a lovely argument one time with Ed Pettinger of British Airways about tracking. He really couldn’t see the point of having a resolution that made airlines track bags, and he was right. Tracking bags for the sake of tracking bags is pointless. Tracking bags to have the information to do something positive in your operation is golden. If you cannot make a link between the tracking information and action on the ground, then you have wasted money setting up tracking.

Thanks for stating the obvious…

Yes, it really is obvious but it would amaze you to know how many people just don’t get it, nor quite grasp how much effort it is to make the changes needed to capture and use baggage information. There are human factors, complex IT issues, data access issues, data consistency issues, so many issues. Many airlines decide not to rely upon data unless they know that they have a complete and trustworthy picture, however there are some that start with small steps, partial data sets, limited trials, and they then develop something amazing like a machine learning algorithm that can predict a bag’s chance of mishandling before pressing the dispatch button. Over the next few months I will write several short posts that explore how to collect, share, and use data. Why we do things the way we do and how we can improve baggage for everyone. Leave me some comments to tell me what you like or don’t like.

The article written by Andrew Price

Head, Global Baggage Operations at IATA

Original version https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-track-bags-andrew-price/

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