What happens when you arrive at IGI, New Delhi and your baggage is still at Honolulu, Hawaii?
How did that happen? Best guess would be that the airline mishandled your luggage. It’s not a crime but it should be, right?
"Each year nearly 23m bags are mishandled and most of these (79%) are delayed which leads to additional cost to airlines and great discomfort to flyers as well. "
But all is not lost as the technological advancement now allows airlines and airports to minimize such mishaps.
One such solution is use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) system to identify, trace, track and manage your luggage. RFID can also be used for granting access, preventing unauthorized access, and to enhance security at the airports as well.
With RFID in place airlines can free up staff and direct them to more value added tasks.
How does RFID system work for airlines?
Well, the RFID system uses RFID tags, antennas and RFID readers to send and receive radio signals that work in varied frequency range globally.
UHF Passive RFID tags are used on assets and when passing through the reader range, they emit radio wave that is read by the RFID reader placed at intersections and the data written in the tag is sent to a system that stores the said data.
This foolproof method of keeping track of every asset passing through the airport premises is very efficient and allows airlines to safely manage your luggage as well.
Barcode or RFID or a hybrid solution?
Airlines have been using barcodes on luggage for a long time and they do misplace the baggage despite of that.
Barcode is nothing but an image that contains some data about the asset. Notwithstanding its susceptibility to tempering, it’s a slow mechanism that allows for mistakes.
It can be easily damaged, and in addition to that the barcode scanners cannot read more than one barcode at a time. It has to be done one by one.
You should also know that barcodes can only be read when in direct line of sight with the scanner which leads to slow movement of luggage on the conveyor belt or worse, missing the luggage altogether.
RFID system, on the other hand, is quite versatile in terms of scanning. An UHF RFID reader can read hundreds of tags, without a clear line of sight, without missing any tag whatsoever.
RFID tags are also temper-proof and can be read from a distance of up to 15 meters.
However, a hybrid solution using barcodes and RFID can’t be ruled out. It will result in higher read rates and help airlines incorporate RFID easily without new overwhelming costs.
How airlines can manage better handling of baggage using RFID system in place?
With automatic scanning of baggage at intersections, and real time tracking of luggage, airlines can minimize mishandling of your luggage and improve customer experience.
Form collecting the bags from passengers to storing the bags until flight is ready to board, and to make sure that bags are on the same flight as the flyers, and finally de-boarding the bags at correct destination, making sure that passengers find the bags at reclaim carrousel, RFID system can streamline the entire process.
RFID read rates are as high as 97%-98%in comparison to barcode that have only 60%-70% read rates which means that RFID tags are read without failure most of the time. This results in clean processing of your luggage by the airlines, in no time.
Though barcodes are cheaper option than RFID, the advantages of RFID outweigh the implementation costs. It can transform the whole operation and save airlines from additional costs that they occur due to mishandling.
Various airlines around the globe like Delta Airlines US network, Hong Kong International Airport, Italy’s Milano Malpensa Airport, Denmark’s Aalborg International Airport, and Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport have been using RFID technology to improve flyer experience and minimize losses as well.