How Airlines Use Barcodes to Reduce Lost Luggage


How Airlines Use Barcodes to Reduce Lost Luggage

Many of us have been there, standing at the end of a long flight waiting around the baggage carousel, desperately searching for your checked-in baggage. Perhaps you tied a brightly coloured ribbon around the handle or used one of those rainbow coloured straps to help identify your suitcase. But still, it doesn’t appear.

Even with the most up-to-date technology, lost baggage is a major problem worldwide. As reported by the BBC, a recent survey by air transport and communications experts, SITA, reported that the total number of mishandled bags has fallen from 46.9 million in 2007 to 24.8 million in 2018.

In this same period of time, the number of people using air travel has nearly doubled, so despite almost 25 million bags still going missing, it’s a dramatic improvement. Much of this improvement has been put down to the investment of automated tracking systems, incorporating barcode technology.

luggage barcodes

Why You Have a Barcode on Your Luggage

At the check-in desk, you’ll notice that along with barcodes on your tickets, your checked-in baggage is also given a barcode sticker and/or tag. The barcodes are unique to you, your baggage and your journey.

Once your baggage leaves you, it begins its journey through the airport on a series of conveyor belts. After being checked in, the barcode on your suitcase will be scanned – this is usually by an automated 360° scanner that can read the barcode on whichever side of the suitcase the sticker has ended up, even underneath. This is why all previous stickers and tags must be removed, so the scanner only reads the code relevant to your current trip.

If the sticker can’t be scanned automatically, it will be diverted to be scanned manually and sent on its way to be loaded onto the relevant aircraft at the gate. As with other uses of barcodes in transport, this system creates a chain of evidence meaning your baggage can be tracked at any stage of its journey.

So How Do Bags Still Go Missing?

While the investment into barcode technology has greatly improved the statistics on lost baggage, errors do still occur. Lost luggage is usually put down to one of these three errors:

1. Missing a connecting flight: if the first leg of a long haul journey is delayed, there might not be time to load your baggage before departure.

2. Handling errors: a certain amount of the process is still reliant on human labour. The hold of the plane may not be thoroughly searched and a bag left inside, or a suitcase might fall off a trailer transporting bags to the terminal and not be noticed in time.

3. Inadequate technology: smaller airlines and remote airports may not have the investment needed to upgrade their technology and procedures in line with more advanced airlines, so errors are more likely.

What Can Be Done to Improve the System?

Dealing with customer complaints, and locating and transporting lost luggage to its desperate owners costs airlines money, therefore it’s in their best interests to invest in their baggage tracking systems.

In June 2019, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) implemented Resolution 753, a plan that outlines the ways airlines must improve their baggage tracking, highlighting four key stages of the journey at which baggage must be accounted for. The intention is that more passengers and their baggage will be reunited after every flight in the years to come. Just another cool use for barcodes and a way in which barcode technology is being implemented to improve our modern lives.

If you need barcode labels, plain labels or label printing software, we’re here to help. With online ordering and next-day delivery services, contact Tanto Labels today to see how we can help you improve your business.

Comment : 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *