Gone are the days when you need to see an airport agent to check your bags in before your flight. Alaska Airlines will become the first U.S.-based airline to introduce electronic bag tagging, allowing customers to complete the check-in process almost entirely from home, and creating additional efficiencies throughout the journey.
Electronic Bag Tags Introduced First to Elites
Alaska Airlines is introducing electronic bag tags, which will be available for select Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan elites to trial later this year, and then rolled out to the general public thereafter.
The devices will be available for purchase, though the cost hasn’t been announced at this time.
Here’s how the electronic bag tag process will work:
- At home, you’ll place the smartphone you used to check in to your flight on the bag tag, and an antenna inside that powers the device will read the flight information sent from the phone.
- On the bag tag itself, you’ll notice the screen and barcode display the flight you’re checking in with. As you check in for additional flights, the screen will switch to the new flights, making the bag tag completely reusable.
- Your bag tag will display the current flight’s information until it’s swapped out for a new set of flights (a future reservation).
Not only will this new system lead to 40% less time spent checking in, according to Alaska, but the airline will also save a significant amount of paper and other hard goods normally required to print and label each bag. Alaska isn’t the first to do this — other carriers, such as Oneworld airlines Qantas and British Airways have implemented similar systems before.
Unfortunately, you’ll only be able to check in your bag up to 24 hours prior to your flight, according to Alaska, which is a severe limitation. For example, you may not know you’re checking a bag until the last minute, in which case you’d still need to visit an airport agent.
Self-Bag Drop System Being Tested at San Jose (SJC)
Alaska Airlines is also introducing a self-bag drop system, which the airline is trialing at San Jose (SJC). With this process, customers check in and tag their bags entirely on their own, a process that’s used currently by many European carriers.
This new electronic bag tag system is an exciting innovation for not only Alaska Airlines, but also the U.S. aviation system as most airlines have continued to employ old-school techniques for many years. Finally, a self-check-in option will be possible, making it easier to check your bags in at home and avoid long lines at the airport.
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