This Airline Is Launching Digital Bag Tags to Speed Up Check-In

Alaska Airlines plans to launch the program in late 2022.

Alaska Airlines digital bag tags

Alaska Airlines digital bag tags

Courtesy of Alaska Airlines

During a time of travel chaos marked by staffing shortages and delayed baggage, one U.S.-based airline hopes a new piece of technology will give customers and staff some relief.

Alaska Airlines this week announced plans to launch electronic bag tags that will replace the paper tags usually printed at the check-in counter.

When customers check in through Alaska’s mobile app up to 24 hours before their flight, they’ll also be able to sync the bag tag. The same information that would be on a printed tag (barcode, flight path, and customer name) will be transmitted to a screen similar to that of a Kindle on the tag through Bluetooth technology. It’ll effectively complete the check-in process before they reach the airport—all they’ll have to do is drop their bag off to be scanned in.

“Not only will our electronic bag tags allow our guests to quickly drop off their luggage after they arrive at the airport, but the devices will also give our employees the opportunity to spend more one-on-one time with guests who ask for assistance and reduce lines at our lobbies,” said Charu Jain, senior vice president of merchandising and innovation at Alaska Airlines, in a statement. The airline said it expects the tags will reduce the “time spent dropping-off checked luggage by nearly 40 percent,” due to less time waiting in lines.

The program will launch sometime in late 2022, according to the carrier, starting with 2,500 Alaska Airlines’ frequent flier program members who will be asked to test the new service. Mileage Plan members (Alaska’s loyalty program) will be able to purchase the devices in early 2023, according to the airline.

Alaska is the first U.S.-based carrier to adopt the use of the devices made by Dutch company Bagtag. Other Bagtag-supported airlines included Air Dolomiti, Austrian, China Southern, KLM, Lufthansa, and Swiss.

This isn’t the first time Alaska has made waves with its innovations this year. In March, Alaska launched a self-bag drop system at San Jose International Airport. And in February, it began an annual subscription service called Flight Pass that allows members to take up to 24 round-trip flights a year between some of its West Coast destinations (primarily within California, but also including Reno, Phoenix, and Las Vegas) for a monthly flat fee.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at Afar. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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