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British Airways Set To Bring Luggage Tags Into the 21st Century

Soulskill posted 1 year,22 days | from the your-bags-will-automatically-tweet-as-they're-getting-lost dept.

Transportation 123

Zothecula writes "Most people would probably agree that air travel still has plenty of room for improvement, particularly when it comes to actually checking in and getting on the plane. For its part, British Airways is now taking steps to speed up the whole process on its end and is even testing a digital alternative to the traditional paper luggage tag. The airline recently produced an electronic luggage tag that travelers can update themselves with a smartphone and re-use over and over."

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123 comments

Sure, join us (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192597)

Welcome to the 21st century...Qantas and a number of other airlines have already been doing this for some time, where is the news?

Re:Sure, join us (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192683)

This is a RE-USABLE tag, not a one off.

The issue is re-programming the BSM in the tag for each flight. This is used to track the bag throughout its journey. This is what you need in the event is goes missing.
If BA can solve that then great but BSM's have a habit of getting messed up quite easily.

IT would also go a long way to speed up checkin. The number of delays due to Bag-Tag printers malfunctioning is staggering.

Yes, I work in an Airport.

Re:Sure, join us (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192789)

The Qantas one is RE-USABLE. It is the whole point, Qantas gives frequent flyers and club members a reusable durable plastic tag that you put on your luggage

Re:Sure, join us (5, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192805)

"Yes, I work in an Airport."

You may work in an airport, but your appeal to authority is not helping you now. Parent AC is right.

The Q Bag Tag is a permanent electronic bag tag designed to facilitate a faster and easier baggage check-in at domestic airports.*

There's no longer a need to attach a temporary bag tag each time you fly domestically - just drop your bags and go.

http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/q-bag-tag/global/en [qantas.com.au]

They work fine, I've been using them for the past year or so.

Re:Sure, join us (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192981)

I hate Trayvon. I'm glad he's dead. Rot in hell, Trayvon !

Re:Sure, join us (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193557)

The link page suggests that these only work at "domestic" airports.

As the BA one has a barcode, it will work anywhere.

Re: Sure, join us (1)

stifler9999 (1184283) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194511)

Indeed, ive been using them for years now. Work well so long as its domestic. Q tag is a great step and as soon as it becomes a global, air travel may be 1% less painful.

Re:Sure, join us (1)

Camael (1048726) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193207)

IT would also go a long way to speed up checkin. The number of delays due to Bag-Tag printers malfunctioning is staggering.

How does this compare with the number of delays due to the electronic tags being updated with the wrong information by the passengers? If the tags can be updated by the passengers themselves, it is a virtual certainty that someone somewhere will make a mistake, taking into consideration the complexities of international flights, transit stops, connecting flights, return flights etc etc.

FTA:

The airline recently produced an electronic luggage tag that travelers can update themselves with a smartphone and re-use over and over. The proposed electronic tags will have two small e-ink screens showing the bag's destination and a corresponding barcode with more flight details. Using an app, passengers will be able to wave their smartphone over it and automatically input their destination via NFC.

Re:Sure, join us (1)

somersault (912633) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193461)

The app itself would (or, should) know the exact details of the next flight.

Though I think it would be better just to have a barcode assigned to each customer which is then attached to their luggage - then they don't have to fiddle around with the tag every time they go on a flight. Recording flight data into the tag itself seems to be a completely redundant stage.

Re:Sure, join us (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194113)

In theory, that should work fine. In practice, I'm seeing a lot of scanners that missed an update and so they read your barcode and have no clue at all where the bag is going.

That's why you want the tag itself to reflect the current destination.

Re:Sure, join us (1)

somersault (912633) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194717)

I imagined the scanners checking against a central server that holds the flight info, rather than having their own local copy of the data. But maybe that would be impractical for some reason. I can also see privacy nuts getting angry at being identifiable via a bar code (as the logical conclusion to all of this "improving convenience" malarky is for each person to have a single token that identifies them across all airlines).

On second thoughts, a bar code is far too easy to replicate and have someone else pay extra charges to transport your luggage.. so an electronic tag would probably be best - but one that you didn't have to reprogram yourself each time you fly.

Re:Sure, join us (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194411)

The app itself would (or, should) know the exact details of the next flight.

Though I think it would be better just to have a barcode assigned to each customer which is then attached to their luggage - then they don't have to fiddle around with the tag every time they go on a flight. Recording flight data into the tag itself seems to be a completely redundant stage.

I think that if you'd put a QR code on the passenger ticket and replicate it on each luggage tag that would be good. You could hold a lot more info than a straight bar code, and it would be something that tied passenger and luggage and their routes together more closely.

The problem with an electronic tag is that there's more danger of it being wiped accidentally. Or deliberately reprogrammed for malicious purposes. A paper code is harder to tamper with.

Re:Sure, join us (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193633)

Yes, I work in an Airport.

So do the people in the tower. And those who clean the airport's toilets. Both probably don't know more about check-in specifics than the average person not working at the airport. And quite possibly less that the average frequent flyer.

Re:Sure, join us (1)

cbope (130292) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192951)

I believe the news is this will replace paper baggage tags for all fliers, unlike the current Qantas system which is only for frequent fliers. BIG difference.

Re:Sure, join us (2)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192985)

Well there was the Denver Airport,

"which was an unmitigated failure. An airport opening originally scheduled for October 31, 1993, with a single system
for all three concourses turned into a February 28, 1995, opening with separate systems for each concourse, with varying degrees of automation.

The automated baggage system never worked as designed, and in August 2005 it became public knowledge that
United would abandon the system, a decision that would save them $1 million per month in maintenance costs,"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denver_International_Airport#Automated_baggage_system [wikipedia.org]

Re:Sure, join us (1)

cbope (130292) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193135)

It certainly was a failure at the time, but let's put it in perspective. Windows 3.1/3.11 was the mainstream OS at that time. I believe technology has improved just a tiny fraction since then...

Re:Sure, join us (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194011)

It sounds like they just hired the wrong group to do/design it. UPS, FedEx and the USPS have systems that track and sort hundreds of thousands if not millions of packages a day. Amazon and any large pick and pull warehouse have similar systems that do to a large number of automated pick and pull operations.

Re:Sure, join us (5, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193289)

"Welcome to the 21st century...Qantas and a number of other airlines have already been doing this for some time, where is the news?"

With this one, you can see yourself on your smartphone that your luggage is in Guam instead of where you are.

Yeah, those will last... (1)

supersat (639745) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192603)

... about 2 seconds.

Stolen tags (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192607)

Ripe for problems.

Re:Stolen tags (5, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192627)

I'm a lot more worried about forged tags or rewriting tags to send bags other places.

One could steal luggage or could possibly redirect bags containing contraband, while the bag is already in-circulation and away from the passenger or courier, if there's a way to access the luggage tag via smartphone without having to physically touch or see the tag. The phone could be in the bag itself and could reprogram the tag remotely.

I simply do not trust an electronic system to be any more foolproof than a paper system, given the sheer number of infrastructure-grade compromised electronic systems. Being that, I don't see a reason to spend an inordinate amount of money on a new system that won't deliver any better results.

Re:Stolen tags (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192733)

It's not as if paper tags are difficult to remove or replace. The advantage I see of a reusable system is that it makes it possible to develop a global RFID-based system (based on the current RFID solutions still being too expensive for use as disposable luggage tags). Being able to automatically read the identifiers on all bags within a few meters means automatically tracking luggage becomes much, much faster and thus practical to do at more points (e.g., the plane could know that a particular bag for XYZ doesn't belong on the flight to ABC as it gets thrown through the cargo door). From the article, I couldn't tell if this system included something like that, but the idea of a more expensive, but reusable tag seems to make a great deal of sense. As long as the bag effectively has GUID, tracking becomes much more effective...

Re:Stolen tags (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192935)

Some airlines/airports are already using RFIDs embedded into the paper tag, and have been for over 5 years.

Re:Stolen tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193697)

based on the current RFID solutions still being too expensive for use as disposable luggage tags

Disposable RFID tags cost on the order of $0.10 a piece, and greatly reduce errors in baggage sorting compared to bar codes alone. That alone more than justifies the price. One of the biggest things preventing their adoption is that baggage handling equipment is often the property of the airport (especially in cases where several airlines share a terminal) but the benefits of an improved system accrue to the airlines.

Re:Stolen tags (1)

AK Marc (707885) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192801)

The current system is easily hacked. Switching tags can be done along the way by lots of people. Print your own at home to send your baggage to somewhere else. Much like electronic voting, it's something the Luddites don't trust, but would be hard to do worse than the current system without deliberately trying, and unlike voting, the airline has no incentive to make it work poorly.

Re:Stolen tags (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192957)

Switching tags can be done along the way by lots of people.

It only ever could be done by staff of the airport (or someone who manages to get into the staff-only areas some other way), at least at all airports that I know. The tag gets attached by the service person when you give up your luggage and then you'll not have access to your luggage again until you get it back at your destination airport.

Print your own at home to send your baggage to somewhere else.

Printing your own at home would help you nothing, because the first step they do is always to remove any tags which are already there (usually from the previous flight), and afterwards you have no chance to attach another one because you don't have access to the baggage any more.

Re:Stolen tags (1)

AK Marc (707885) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193103)

It only ever could be done by staff of the airport (or someone who manages to get into the staff-only areas some other way), at least at all airports that I know. The tag gets attached by the service person when you give up your luggage and then you'll not have access to your luggage again until you get it back at your destination airport.

I've been to more than one where if you are express checked in, you are the one that puts your luggage on the belt, and nobody checks that your luggage and ticket are for the same place.

Printing your own at home would help you nothing, because the first step they do is always to remove any tags which are already there (usually from the previous flight), and afterwards you have no chance to attach another one because you don't have access to the baggage any more.

How often do you fly where you print your own boarding pass at home? Express check-in with automated baggage handling? Never? Sounds that way.

Re:Stolen tags (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193241)

How often do you fly where you print your own boarding pass at home?

I virtually always print my boarding pass at home.

Express check-in with automated baggage handling?

Express check in: Always.
Automated baggage handling (as in, no person sitting there, checking my ticket (and sometimes my ID), and putting a tag on the suitcase): Not available at any airport I ever checked in.

Re:Stolen tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44194281)

UPS, Fedex, and the USPS regularly handle far more packages than the airlines do, and lose packages much less frequently. The root problem with baggage handling is not difficulty in tracking the packages, but rather a complete lack of any give-a-shit by the people actually responsible for moving the bags around.

Re:Stolen tags (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194631)

It only ever could be done by staff of the airport (or someone who manages to get into the staff-only areas some other way), at least at all airports that I know. The tag gets attached by the service person when you give up your luggage and then you'll not have access to your luggage again until you get it back at your destination airport.

At the Reno, NV, airport when flying Southwest, they attach the tag, but only sometimes will they take the bag. For any item that is moderately heavy (even if well within the weight limits), the passenger must carry the bag to a different location where a "professional" (i.e., strong but not really bright) will lift the bag onto the belt. It sounds like a joke, but that's the system.

So, if the check in desk is busy at all, the "professional" doesn't know if you came from the desk, straight in from outside, or if you had time to tamper with the tag that was placed on the bag by the agents.

Southwest in Reno is strange as far as baggage is concerned in other ways, too, as I have flown in there with bags that they won't let me fly out with unless I waive damage/loss claims because they believe the bag could "come apart" (which, admittedly, it does, but can't accidentally unless the bag were completely destroyed). This same bag has been flown on Southwest to many other destinations with no problem, yet the people in Reno don't like it.

Re:Stolen tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193409)

You can buy RFID tag programmers/Duplicators from China for $20 or so.
I think some can profit from this. Have a transponder repeat the N-2 RFID it received, then default to normal.
Your bag goes missing, insurance collected, and when they scan it again correct RFID transmitted = profit.

Re:Stolen tags (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193373)

I simply do not trust an electronic system to be any more foolproof than a paper system, given the sheer number of infrastructure-grade compromised electronic systems. Being that, I don't see a reason to spend an inordinate amount of money on a new system that won't deliver any better results.

You don't need to trust it to be more foolproof. The old system isn't foolproof either. It fails in so many ways that organised drug cartels already use carry on baggage to smuggle contraband, that bags end up on completely wrong planes, or best of all no one has a clue where your bag ended up.

The system doesn't need to be secure or foolproof in anyway to be better than what we already have.

Re:Stolen tags (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194181)

That was my thought as well. It could even be something as silly as a kid changing the destination of an entire cart's forth of luggage while playing with a smartphone in the airport.

The tag will need to be at least as hard to change as it would be to cut one paper tag off and attach a forged tag. And to cover the bored kid angle, changing the tag needs to not look at all like fun.

Re:Stolen tags (3)

mjwx (966435) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192691)

How will the tags be stolen when they're registered at check in? Another passenger couldn't use it to get another 20 KG on the plane at that point. They'd have to be stolen by handlers and this would be pretty stupid (although some are that stupid, they always get caught). Then what would they use it for? The person at the other end isn't going to pick up a bag that looks nothing like theirs.

Electronic tags will solve a few problems and speed up baggage sorting.

As long as you can still write your name on the outside (and better yet a LCD readout of your destination IATA code) it has all the same advantages of a paper system but can be machine sorted with near 100% accuracy.

I mean, who steals paper luggage tags? no-one because they're practically useless to anyone but the owner.

Re:Stolen tags (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192861)

They'd have to be stolen by handlers and this would be pretty stupid (although some are that stupid, they always get caught).

Like sheep, it's the clever ones you have to look out for.

Re:Stolen tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192939)

You mean like these ones? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3938591.stm :>

Re:Stolen tags (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194595)

Like sheep, it's the clever ones you have to look out for.

I sort of want to know what this is about. But most of me says 'don't go there''.

Re:Stolen tags (1)

Mashiki (184564) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193089)

They'd have to be stolen by handlers and this would be pretty stupid (although some are that stupid, they always get caught).

Sorry they don't always get caught, a few years ago there was an issue at Pearson(YYZ) where handlers were stealing luggage, and passing it though to people who were entering illegal onto the airport property. RCMP got involved, and a whole pile of other stuff. Eventually they were caught, but as best as they can figure it had been on-going for 5 years.

RFID Earrings and Piercings (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192611)

how long until we're tagged by RFID tats, earrings, piercings, etc. just like baggage?

LOOKS LIKE MEAT'S back on the menu, BOYS!

Re:RFID Earrings and Piercings (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194359)

If NSA or marketing get their way, we'll all be sporting these [baltimoresun.com] soon enough.

Qantas has uses RFID tags (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192639)

Qantas Frequent Fliers are given RFID tags for luggage tages. Results in very simply automatic loading onto conveyor belts where the tags are automatically picked up. The system results in extremely quick checkins - much quicker and smoother than any other airline I have ever flown. Its a brilliant system - however only works for domestic flights.

Qantas RFID tags (2)

johnjones (14274) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192763)

Yes the qantas system is RFID standard tag embedded in a rather durable plastic you can see it here :

http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/airlines/q-bag-tag/global/en

WHY don't all airlines embed a RFID chip on the barcoded label at least ?
(frequent flyers can have a permanent tag such as Qantas )
makes sense to me

regards

John Jones

Re:Qantas RFID tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192889)

Why don't all luggage manufacturers embed a couple of tags in the luggage with a standardized numbering system that include manufacturer, standard attributes of the luggage, and maybe even a 'cloud' (ouf, I hate that word) service where you can register your ownership to the luggage. Over a period of years, the companies could give incentives for checking in such luggage, and at a given date, you could require it (like rfid passports). It would still be possible to purchase a loose tag to attach to a custom package, for a fee.

Re:Qantas RFID tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192967)

WHY don't all airlines embed a RFID chip on the barcoded label at least ?

Some do.

Re:Qantas RFID tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193499)

Not all airports have the equipment to read the RFID tags. What use are they then?

Re:Qantas RFID tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44194499)

Not all airports have the equipment to read the RFID tags. What use are they then?

The readers also can malfunction and break down. In such situations, you're back to manually sorting the luggage, and many times the handlers don't bother checking every piece. Which is really the root of the problem right now- it's not that there's a problem with the barcodes, although they do take longer to scan, it's that the people responsible for the luggage don't care.

The company I work at uses UPS and Fedex to ship packages all day long, we've never had lost packages, can track them the entire time, and the entire system uses barcodes only. Adding the RFID tag might reduce labor a little bit, but fundamentally it has all the same problems as optical-based tags- they both rely on the people doing the work to give a shit, and the airline workers simply don't. Why would they? There's no liability for lost, stolen, damaged, or misrouted luggage, so there's no incentive to care.
Shit, most airports still toss everybody's baggage onto the pickup belt and let anybody just walk up and take it, and do nothing to verify it's actually the owner grabbing the bags.

Re:Qantas RFID tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44194343)

They use embedded RFID+barcode+text luggage tag the flight I took from Hong Kong to Canada 3 years ago. It was also nice that I can check in my luggage at the rapid transit ride to the airport.

I know because I opened up the tags afterward.

Re:Qantas has uses RFID tags (1)

waimate (147056) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193043)

Yep, only domestic, and moreover only when your entire journey involves major domestic airports. If you're flying from one capital to another and then onward to somewhere interesting, the Q-Tag she no work. Great for business travellers; not so good for people travelling with fishing rods or BCDs :(

Doubtless the reach will spread in time, but in the years I've had them, I've been asked to take them off more often than I've been able to leave them on.

Re:Qantas has uses RFID tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193111)

My airline also has Quantum tags.... your luggage may...or may not be there...

RFID has been done by QANTAS, HK Airport (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192653)

I like the E-Ink because its fully backwards compatible with current handling methods, modulo the life/MTBF and wear-and-tear.

QANTAS went with RFID tags which are pretty robust, and for domestic flights, do the routing automatically. Alas, no traction worldwide, but very cute

(HKK does RFID on disposable tape, which I peel off each time I pass through)

You Can't Handle The Truth !!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192695)

You are all zombies dancing to their electronic beat.

You can shove your "smartphone" up your ass for all I care.

Enjoy your ANGRY TURDS.

Re:You Can't Handle The Truth !!!! (1)

MiG82au (2594721) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192795)

Yeah, because you have so much more privacy when it's a paper tag assigned to you going through the baggage system. WTF are you on about you loony?

Re:You Can't Handle The Truth !!!! (2)

cbope (130292) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192937)

Don't feed the trolls.

Missed opportunity (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44192743)

The millions they waste on redesigning a perfectly functional luggage tagging system could be used to feed millions of fatsos bacon. A sad waste of an opportunity.

The travellers update it themselves? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192771)

The travellers update it themselves? Over the phone (i.e. remotely)? I can't imagine that works well.

Yes, 99% will probably do it properly. But the remaining 1% will cause no end of trouble. Not to mention when someone hacks it and sends other people's bags around the world for the lulz.

Why not having it programmed at the check-in? I see exactly zero advantage of doing it per phone. You still need to physically put the bag on the counter. So just have a system that programs the tag there.

Re:The travellers update it themselves? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192859)

The travellers update it themselves? Over the phone (i.e. remotely)?

No, they can't. Maybe you should read TFA before making an ass of yourself. Then teach the rest of Slashdot to do the same.

You can update your app with the baggage tag (and not remotely), but you can't update the tag with the app.

Re:The travellers update it themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193113)

You can update your app with the baggage tag

Why would I want to do that?

Re:The travellers update it themselves? (1)

OolimPhon (1120895) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193147)

You can update your app with the baggage tag

Why would I want to do that?

So you can find out where it is, much like parcel tracking?

Re:The travellers update it themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44194689)

You can update your app with the baggage tag

Why would I want to do that?

So you can find out where it is, much like parcel tracking?

No, you can find out where it was the last time someone scanned the tag. That's not the same as the actual location. Essentially it's not any different than the optical barcode scanning, the only functional difference is how the tags actually get scanned. The failure point is still the people and machines responsible for doing the scanning/reading... equipment malfunctions and/or breaks down, people get lazy and cut corners, etc.

Re:The travellers update it themselves? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193619)

It's puling the temporary ID off the tag via NFC so you don't have to type in some 16 digit alpha numeric or whatever. How do you track your bag, if you don't know your tag number?

Re:The travellers update it themselves? (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194099)

You can update your app with the baggage tag (and not remotely), but you can't update the tag with the app.

That's true if you RTFA, but the summary says the oposite:

an electronic luggage tag that travelers can update themselves with a smartphone

Slasdot editors on the ball again, I see!

Bahamas specification ? (2)

aepervius (535155) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192779)

I wonder how good does it plays with the bahamas spec (lost luggage) and SITA world tracer. Do they have maybe a middleware to translate it from one format to the other ? And what do you do with flights bound on other airlien which do not support it ? Since your bag tag follows you , then you would still need a pritned one by BA.

airline-specific?! (5, Interesting)

macshit (157376) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192933)

So BA is making an electronic luggage tag ... and as some have pointed out, Qantas already has them.

Are they compatible? Will frequent flyers that use multiple airlines end up with 10 different electronic tags hanging off each piece of luggage?

A universal standard tag would seem a good idea...

Universal standard (2)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193301)

But there is a universal standard. It is called "Human Readable".

Re:airline-specific?! (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193469)

Dude, do you even vendor lock in? They won't want interoperability, they want return business!

Have you learned nothing in the past decade about how corporations are out to fuck you over for a buck?!~

Re:airline-specific?! (1)

jbengt (874751) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193961)

Dude, do you even vendor lock in? They won't want interoperability, they want return business!

Each airport has its' own baggage handling systems, and those are often shared among different airlines.

Quantas Tag is domestic only. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193571)

As others have noted, the Quantas tag is domestic flights only. The BA tag apparently has a bar code so can be used anywhere.

Idiocracy dawns (1)

secondhand_Buddah (906643) | 1 year,22 days | (#44192963)

Great!! So I will now be able to monitor my bags being jetted off to some exotic destination in real-time, while I go in the opposite direction. Isn't technology wonderful?

Obligatory (1, Funny)

vikingpower (768921) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193039)

In Soviet Britain, your luggage bags YOU !

Re:Obligatory (0)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193507)

In Soviet Ankh-Morpork, your Luggage bags YOU !

FTFY.

Re:Obligatory (0)

vikingpower (768921) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193937)

In Soviet Ankh-Morpork, your baggage lugs you !

Suggestion to BA (4, Interesting)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193005)


This is not an attempt to "innovate" or get rid of those stupid stickers...this is just another way BA wants to collect customer data for free.

Here's a real suggestion; I recently traveled with a Chinese airline and they had the unoriginal but highly effective idea of staggering passenger on-boarding.

It does not get much simpler to speed things up, fill the back of the plane first by batches.

It's amazing how 230 people can board in 15 minutes with luggage if 200 don't have to wait for one person blocking the rather narrow path.

Seriously how simple and efficient can it get to defeat long standing queues? 'passenger seat numbers 41 - 50 now boarding', then 30 - 40 etc. is this some form of misunderstood genius?!

Suggestion 2; make a security queue for people without handbags. this will cause more people to not bother with one just so they can get through faster.

If BA want to hire me as a consultant I'll save them loads of money, they can pay me half the difference. -brought to you by basic copycat logic.

Re:Suggestion to BA (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193121)

BA do that, have done for years.

Re:Suggestion to BA (1)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193283)

Just flown back from Stockholm where BA did exactly this.

Re:Suggestion to BA (1)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193933)

Unless this is a recent development it makes one wonder why this has not happened across all flights.

Re:Suggestion to BA (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194691)

Along with using both exits, the simple expedient of allowing passengers without large carryons (so everything fits under the seat) to board early has significantly reduced board times.

My next suggestion: Anyone with 'carry on' weighing more than 20 kg gets to fly in the cargo hold - along with the carry on.

Re:Suggestion to BA (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44194763)

Unless this is a recent development it makes one wonder why this has not happened across all flights.

I've never had a flight where it didn't happen.
But I've also never had a flight where the people in charge of coordinating the boarding actually paid attention, so they almost always call the next group of seats before people have their overhead stowed.

Re:Suggestion to BA (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193579)

What extra info will they get that they you have'nt given them already?

Re:Suggestion to BA (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193667)

Seriously how simple and efficient can it get to defeat long standing queues? 'passenger seat numbers 41 - 50 now boarding', then 30 - 40 etc. is this some form of misunderstood genius?!

Every airline I've flown in the last 15 years has done this for planes that seat over 60 people.

Re:Suggestion to BA (0)

camperdave (969942) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193831)

Except that first class, the front of the plane, gets seated first.

Luggage tracking (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193041)

So now they want to track our luggage between flights as well. PRISM much?

All for cost saving (4, Insightful)

isorox (205688) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193057)

The idea is to further move the burden of travel on to the passenger.

I fly BA a bit, 56 flights with them this year. I check a bag on almost all of them. There's rarely a queue. The current baggage tags work wonders, there's a secondary sticker in case the main one gets ripped off, and it has your name on it which is handy when checking you've got the right one at the carrousel.

I arrive at the airport, walk to the desk, drop my bag off, shove my passport over and smile. They give me a nice boarding card (which is often for a seat some rows in front of where I'd selected), put a label on my bag and send it off into the depths of the airport, issue me with a lounge invite (at some airports), and it gives me an opportunity to ask where the lounge is, as many airports I only visit once every couple of years.

It's simple, quick and cheap. If my bag does for some reason arrive at Baku airport instead of Changi, I'm confident they'll be able to read the tag and return it whence it came.

The company is hoping that upgrading to a high-tech version will shave a few minutes off the check-in process and get people to their flights faster.

No, they want to reduce the number of staff since their disastrous merger with Iberia.

Saving 2 minutes will make diddly squat when you've still got conformance at t-35, and close of bag drop at t-40.

Re:All for cost saving (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193385)

The idea is to further move the burden of travel on to the passenger.

Which is something I am gladly burdened with. You may have a rose coloured view of how things used to be but in peak hour I am eternally grateful that I can check myself in, print my own boarding pass, and until recently had to spend time weighing and tagging my bags with printed pieces of paper.

QANTAS already have this system. When I book online it is literally 2 clicks from an email to check-in. When I get to the terminal a scanner checks the barcode on my phone, I get a ticket, the bag goes on a conveyor with no further interaction required, and I walk to my gate.

I am interested in how you think that saving 2 minutes will do nothing if you're already not happy with how long the process takes? Improvements aren't good enough? We need to make it perfect in one go?

Re:All for cost saving (1)

isorox (205688) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193735)

The idea is to further move the burden of travel on to the passenger.

Which is something I am gladly burdened with. You may have a rose coloured view of how things used to be but in peak hour I am eternally grateful that I can check myself in, print my own boarding pass, and until recently had to spend time weighing and tagging my bags with printed pieces of paper.

QANTAS already have this system. When I book online it is literally 2 clicks from an email to check-in. When I get to the terminal a scanner checks the barcode on my phone, I get a ticket, the bag goes on a conveyor with no further interaction required, and I walk to my gate.

I am interested in how you think that saving 2 minutes will do nothing if you're already not happy with how long the process takes? Improvements aren't good enough? We need to make it perfect in one go?

Rose tinted? It's been a long time since I saw a queue at check in. For economy of course, even once for business, but not for F checkin. Perhaps this will appeal to the occasional flyer that doesn't make oneworld emerald, but more the majority of us check in isn't an issue. Immigration in the states (over 2 hours last time I flew to IAD)

Now the lack of decent fast track on boarding, or at security, is something where time can be saved. In fact my last flight there was no fast track at all!

Saving 2 minutes won't actually happen in reality, as I'll still have to queue up (all flights from heathrow requirie a visit to get a "visa check".

I usuallyplan my arrival at the airport to get there within a few minutes of bag drop closing so this isnt going to help.

At best it means 2 more minutes in a crappy airport lounge. I won't be able to arrive at the airport any later than I do now, and it won't help deliver my bag any quicker. In fact it may well cause my bag to get lost.

Re:All for cost saving (1)

Alomex (148003) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193815)

I fly BA a bit, 56 flights with them this year. I check a bag on almost all of them. There's rarely a queue.

I call BS. Either you're flying out of a very small airport or checking in hours in advance. You see queues are almost inevitable when the system requires you to interact with an agent. Just do the math: 320 passengers in a transoceanic flight, let's optimistically assume we have 8 counters open, so that is a load of 40 people per counter. Passengers arrive overwhelmingly within a very short and narrow window of the required two hour check in time (+/- 10 minutes), and say it takes a minute to check in. This means you are likely to wait at least ten minutes in the queue.

Re:All for cost saving (1)

isorox (205688) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193849)

I fly BA a bit, 56 flights with them this year. I check a bag on almost all of them. There's rarely a queue.

I call BS. Either you're flying out of a very small airport or checking in hours in advance. You see queues are almost inevitable when the system requires you to interact with an agent. Just do the math: 320 passengers in a transoceanic flight, let's optimistically assume we have 8 counters open, so that is a load of 40 people per counter.

The majority of passengers aren't allowed to use the F counter(s). If you're somewhere like Heathrow (hardly a "very small airport"), the walk from the train to the security to the lounge takes about 10 minutes. Adding a minute to drop off your bag at one of the many empty counters you pass doesn't really add anything to the total time spent in the airport, especially when you have to queue up for a "visa check" anyway at heathrow.

I did once have a situation recently where I waited for 20 seconds for one person to finish up, rather than walk a little further to an empty counter.

Re:All for cost saving (1)

Alomex (148003) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194209)

You mean F counters as in "First Class"? Even then my experience (not with BA) is that there are lineups. Much shorter, usually only one or two passengers ahead of me.

Re:All for cost saving (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194163)

Saving 2 minutes will make diddly squat when you've still got conformance at t-35, and close of bag drop at t-40.

There's that, but I wish they would design airports better. Why, when I'm transiting a counrty, do I need to exit the secure part of the airport and have to pass through security yet again to get to my next gate.

Qantas is Australian ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193093)

Obviously, they pre-stole the idea from British Airways.

Mandatory statement (1)

geirlk (171706) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193163)

Something something about NSA keeping tabs on your luggage for you.

Slashdot V2 (1)

oldhack (1037484) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193183)

Anyone interested in putting together slashdot v2? You know, like it was before with taco, with real science/tech news, nerd humor, etc., where half the posts are not astroturfing?

How would we go about it?

Re:Slashdot V2 (1)

pbjones (315127) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193337)

Yes please! I'm tired of ads.

Re:Slashdot V2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193721)

We could start by keeping it news for nerds. Oh yeah, and people that don't know how to go about something like that wouldn't be invited. :P~

Won't help if they don't scan them more often (1)

brunes69 (86786) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193357)

The luggage tracking systems of most airlines and airports are horrible. Luggage is only scanned when you check it, and when it gets onto the plane. Compare luggage tracking systems in airports to those used by UPS.. with UPS, I can enter a tracking code and find out EXACTLY where my package is at any time, down to the truck it is on. UPS itself can even see the GPS location of the truck. As anyone who has had their luggage lost can tell you (which happens FAR too often), the airlines know little more about your bag other than the plane it is supposed to be on or the airport it is in. They don't have any idea WHERE in the airport it actually is. This is because bags are not scanned enough as they move around the airport. A bag should not be able to go through a chain of custody without scanning it.

Re:Won't help if they don't scan them more often (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44193591)

With RFID they can be scanned at multiple points automatically.

Re:Won't help if they don't scan them more often (1)

brunes69 (86786) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193759)

Sure, assuming this is implemented in the airports and not just a marketing gimmick by BA.

luggage tag (1)

argStyopa (232550) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193569)

The point of a luggage tag is severalfold.
1) to tell baggage-handlers where the bag goes quickly and clearly. Current tags are actually a synthetic paper/film product and are incredibly durable. Will the electronic tag be immune to immersion and the sort of (incredibly) rough handling baggage suffers? What about power surges or lightning strikes? Would it be hilarious if a power surge on the plane meant that all the bags arrive at the destination with no codes at all?
2) to identify the bag and owner at the claim end. This is my bigger concern. If the bag is easily re-programmed with a smartphone, how is this secured? Even if it has some sort of paltry code-mechanism (which none of the text I saw describes), smartphones have some pretty hefty processors and could probably brute-force whatever coding is in place. This means that someone could rather easily claim whatever baggage is sitting in the claim area for a while.

IMO this is a solution in search of a problem. Current tags are durable, cheap, and tamper-resistant.

Re:luggage tag (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193703)

and tamper-resistant

Well, that's your problem: The current system makes it harder to hide when your bag is being searched by some variety of law enforcement.

Re:luggage tag (1)

camperdave (969942) | 1 year,22 days | (#44193885)

Well, considering that the current tags get wrapped around a handle, they do nothing to prevent your bag being searched.

unforeseen consequences (1)

nimbius (983462) | 1 year,22 days | (#44194295)

im sure that while most customers will appreciate not having to fill out tags, the will decidedly not appreciate my set of ">;;,;DROP TABLE LUGGAGE" skis as they make their first and final trek through heathrow..
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