Alaska Airlines Rolling Out Electronic Bag Tags

Alaska Airlines Rolling Out Electronic Bag Tags

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Alaska Airlines will soon be rolling out electronic bag tags, intended to make the process of checking a bag easier. While I think this is a cool(ish) concept, trying to make customers pay for it seems like a stretch.

How Alaska’s DIY electronic bag tags work

Alaska Airlines has announced that it will become the first airline in the United States to launch electronic bag tags later this year. Interestingly the airline trialed (and abandoned) the concept back in 2016, though it seems that Alaska is giving it another go.

The intent is that electronic bag tags allow those checking bags to skip the step of printing traditional bag tags at the airport. Instead passengers will be able to “load” their bag tag up to 24 hours before departure from anywhere.

How is that possible? Customers will be given a permanent electronic bag tag, and by touching the phone used for check-in to the electronic bag tag, the information will be transmitted from the phone. The electronic bag tag screen will then display the passenger’s flight information.

Then when the passenger arrives at the airport, they can go straight to the bag drop, and just present their boarding pass and ID. Alaska claims that this program will reduce the time spent dropping off checked luggage by nearly 40%.

Alaska is partnering with Dutch company BAGTAG on this program, as these devices are also being used in other parts of the world. It’s claimed that the devices have durable screens that have been tested to withstand being run over by a luggage cart.

Below is a video showing the process of checking a bag with this electronic tag.

Alaska Airlines’ SVP of Merchandising and Innovation, Charu Jain, describes this as saving passengers time and giving Alaska Airlines employees more time to spend with other people:

“This technology allows our guests to tag their own bags in just seconds and makes the entire check-in process almost all off-airport.”

“Not only will our electronic bag tags allow our guests to quickly drop-off their luggage after they arrive at the airport, 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.”

When will Alaska’s electronic bag tags roll out?

Unfortunately Alaska Airlines customers won’t just be able to opt-in and get these electronic bag tags for free. So what’s the plan here?

  • During the first phase in late 2022, 2,500 Alaska Mileage Plan members will be sent these tags, presumably as a trial phase
  • During the second phase in early 2023, Alaska Mileage Plan members will be given the option to purchase these, for around $70 each

$70 seems like a really steep price to pay for the privilege of having less interaction with Alaska Airlines employees. That’s especially true when you consider that you need one tag per bag, so if you were checking multiple bags, you’d have to buy more than one of these.

I would assume that these tags would be much cheaper if produced on a larger scale, but I imagine the demand just isn’t there yet. But also, of course the demand isn’t there, because you can’t expect most airline customers to pay $70 for an electronic bag tag, and that’s also not a cost airlines are willing to cover on a large scale.

It’s one thing if all airlines accepted these electronic bag tags, but to buy them specifically for travel on one airline is quite an ask.

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines will (again) be rolling out electronic bag tags later this year. These tags will allow eligible travelers to skip the step of printing luggage tags, and instead load them electronically onto a device.

This is a cool innovation, no doubt, I just think the cost is going to prevent this from being too popular.

What do you make of these electronics bag tags? Would you pay for one?

Conversations (30)
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  1. Adam Simmons Guest

    Would these tags include GPS to enable tracking of the bags?

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      No.

      If you want location tracking, buy an Air Tag. (or their competition for Android users)

    2. Eskimo Guest

      There isn't any competition for Android.

      AirTag utilizes every iPhones as a single giant mass surveillance network. No such level of intrusion or hijacking for Android exists.

  2. iamhere Guest

    Many issues here.
    1. What happens if the tag breaks or the screen on the tag gets damaged or if the tag falls off.
    2. As other airlines are not using the technology you can't get it from Alaska and use the same tags for other airlines.
    3. Premium loyalty members won't be given for free and $70 is expensive.
    4. You STILL have to go to the machine and deal...

    Many issues here.
    1. What happens if the tag breaks or the screen on the tag gets damaged or if the tag falls off.
    2. As other airlines are not using the technology you can't get it from Alaska and use the same tags for other airlines.
    3. Premium loyalty members won't be given for free and $70 is expensive.
    4. You STILL have to go to the machine and deal with the bag so what is the big deal of not printing the tag then. It's not like you leave the bag somewhere and then just go to board the flight.

  3. Ari Guest

    Weird how in the video, he tags his bags to go from EWR to SEA, but then checks the bag in at SJC.

  4. R Wolf Guest

    The reality is that one can print AS baggage tags anywhere there’s a printer, then slip them in to the AS-supplied holders. The holders are free and are available at the baggage drop.

  5. Carrie Member

    The QF bag tags are offered as a free perk to FFs holding Silver, Gold and Platinum tier memberships. I have used them for several years and they are both efficient, reliable and sturdy but at the moment, Air Tags are still required to ensure one has some idea where their luggage really has travelled (or not).

  6. RR Guest

    Regular ID tags fall off often. They better be attached better than those ID tags. Can other airlines read the info? Currently, other airlines can't read baggage info on Alaska bag tags(and some international airline tags), making it hard to find where the passenger actually went if there is an itenerary change or the bag misses it's flight. Did they also test it against the baggage system pusher arms that forcibly push the luggage to...

    Regular ID tags fall off often. They better be attached better than those ID tags. Can other airlines read the info? Currently, other airlines can't read baggage info on Alaska bag tags(and some international airline tags), making it hard to find where the passenger actually went if there is an itenerary change or the bag misses it's flight. Did they also test it against the baggage system pusher arms that forcibly push the luggage to the correct bag room location? All airlines need to have compatible systems so they can share customer itenerary and wether or not a passenger actually boarded a flight, or if they changed airlines, etc. To be safe include your name and itenerary in your luggage. That will avoid luggage getting lost if the tags come off.

  7. YULtide Gold

    Love that the sample shows an itinerary of AMS-CDG-FRA. Not on Alaska.

  8. Alan Guest

    Qantas have had these for domestic flights for at least 7 years now - only A$14

  9. Alan Guest

    Qantas have had these for domestic flights for at least 7 years now - https://www.qantas.com/gb/en/travel-info/baggage/permanent-bag-tags.html - only A$14

  10. KenP Guest

    When they rolled out a similar concept out in 2016, I thought is was a good idea. But once, the plastic strap broke while in transit to the plane and they had to call me (based on my phone number on my luggage) and wanted to know why I had put the bag on the belt without a tag. Huh? The remnant of the plastic strap was still on the handle and I assumed that...

    When they rolled out a similar concept out in 2016, I thought is was a good idea. But once, the plastic strap broke while in transit to the plane and they had to call me (based on my phone number on my luggage) and wanted to know why I had put the bag on the belt without a tag. Huh? The remnant of the plastic strap was still on the handle and I assumed that it had broken off while on the belt. Why could they not have figured that out and just retagged the bag based on the passenger list? I had to leave the gate with my carryon, go to baggage claim (that's where it ended up) and then drag the bag back to the checkin counter and retag the bag and then go back through security to en up being the last one to board the plane. This event destroyed any faith I had in the system...which is probably why they abandoned it.

  11. Daniel Guest

    I check a bag on almost every flight and would gladly pay $70 (or much more) one-time to avoid the check-in process on every flight. In my opinion, less employee interactions really is more when dealing with airlines and would be a true luxury. I'm skeptical it would really be that simple though, because they would still probably insist on manually checking ID and asking questions about whether you packed your own bag.

  12. eaci Guest

    As a frequent Alaska flyer, I'll definitely buy two of these.

  13. Jim E Guest

    The sheer price of the “tag” make this a solution in search of a problem.
    Alaska’s present “print and tag” your bags works well. Be careful not to ruin success!

  14. Zack Guest

    This seems like innovation in search of a problem. The airports print the bag tags, which must then be readable by overhead scanners and baggage handlers, in the event that the tag is unreadable. I would argue that much simpler universal bag tags that made use of a card (probably about the size of a credit card) with embedded RFID would work much better and less prone to getting ripped off than the stupid adhesive...

    This seems like innovation in search of a problem. The airports print the bag tags, which must then be readable by overhead scanners and baggage handlers, in the event that the tag is unreadable. I would argue that much simpler universal bag tags that made use of a card (probably about the size of a credit card) with embedded RFID would work much better and less prone to getting ripped off than the stupid adhesive tags in use now. A silicone bag tag would be all you need to hold it.

  15. Ghostrider5408 Guest

    That seems to be easy when there is light traffic what happens when rush hour hits? A lot of steps by someone to get a bag fully checked in. It's a start but clunky.

  16. Al Guest

    You also seem to need NFC for these tags, at least that's how it looks in the video. Obviously plenty of phones do, but plenty don't.

  17. Donna Diamond

    It’s a start that we all need. Have you ever wondered why it takes so long to check in certain passengers? While I rarely check a bag these days, once I get to the agent, the whole process can be turned around in under a minute. It’s just takes one person, or worse family, to stall the line for 20 minutes, and then another, and so on to lead to @Brian’s situation of spending two...

    It’s a start that we all need. Have you ever wondered why it takes so long to check in certain passengers? While I rarely check a bag these days, once I get to the agent, the whole process can be turned around in under a minute. It’s just takes one person, or worse family, to stall the line for 20 minutes, and then another, and so on to lead to @Brian’s situation of spending two hours in line and missing a flight. The fact is, on every flight, passengers (and there is no shortage of these) show up with f*#$ed up tickets and /or documents. Hopefully we will see the day when the whole process can be accomplished at home or in the hotel prior to arrival and security will match the ID with the electronic boarding pass and bag tag and checkin lines will be for those with issues.

  18. Mariio Guest

    Rimowa etag was a great idea -- shame these weren't adopted by the airlines.

    1. Mark Guest

      Yes, it's the same idea as this but with less risk of loss. As it is, it's just a pointless decoration on my check-in Rimowa case that takes up an (admittedly small) bit of room inside the case. Though they were held back by only being used by a small number of airlines too - I watched someone try to set it up for a BA flight at Berlin Tegel once before stepping in and pointing out it didn't work for BA.

  19. Eskimo Guest

    What's the point of e-bag tags if you can't find enough baggage handlers. Not even taken in to account the damages these handlers do to your tags. Your $70 tag will be damage or gone in 2 trips. Another useless tech and e-waste.

    Shoutout to LHR.

  20. Steve Diamond

    It takes less than a minute to print tags from the kiosks if you are a frequent traveler. So dont really see the time savings at all here.

  21. Golfingboy Guest

    Pretty neat idea IMHO but the $70 price tag is a bit too much. Maybe Alaska can offer incentive in the form of get a $5 discount per checked bags that uses those bag tags.

    Now let’s be honest about the “allowing employees more time to interact with customers” statement. Automation and self service (empowering customers to do simple tasks) translates to head count reduction eventually. Everyone knows that.

  22. Brian Guest

    If your a frequent flier like I am with one airline it makes sense. I missed two flights this year because I waited in priority lines for over two hours.

  23. Santos Guest

    So this has nothing to do with tracking and everything to do with the efficiency of the handlers to print a label and affix it to a piece of luggage. Seems like they're trying to spin this as "harnessing cutting-edge technology" when simple personnel training would suffice. IDK, are Alaska handlers/check-in employees as slow as AA's? Then I could definitely see room for improvement.

  24. Mark Guest

    This is what happens when you have job functions like “SVP Merchandising and Innovation”. They have to keep rolling out new ideas to justify their existence. You end up with some good projects and some bad projects.

    If I had to guess, this is a project trying to support Mileage Plan signups and mobile app downloads; not really about saving time at the airport.

  25. Alex Guest

    I would not pay $70 for a tag working only with Alaska . In order to be interesting, it should be a standard for all airlines, and have a tracker like AirTag. Than it could be worth to purchase

  26. Never In Doubt Guest

    Even for people who enjoy checking/ waiting for / playing the “Will it appear?” game with their luggage it seems far more expensive, and less useful than, Apple Air Tags.

    Me? I wouldn’t check luggage on a bet.

  27. dc_nomad Guest

    @Bed- Any word on how Priority tags for premium passengers will be handled?

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ari Guest

Weird how in the video, he tags his bags to go from EWR to SEA, but then checks the bag in at SJC.

1
Alex Guest

I would not pay $70 for a tag working only with Alaska . In order to be interesting, it should be a standard for all airlines, and have a tracker like AirTag. Than it could be worth to purchase

1
Eskimo Guest

There isn't any competition for Android. AirTag utilizes every iPhones as a single giant mass surveillance network. No such level of intrusion or hijacking for Android exists.

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