Last month, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) adopted a resolution supporting the global use of RFID tracking for checked airline baggage at its annual general meeting held in June in Seoul, South Korea.

The move to radio frequency identification will require a wide-scale collaboration between all stakeholders across the industry, including airports, airlines and technology providers. IATA plans to work with airlines and airports to bring RFID to 80 percent of baggage for air travel during the next three years.

The vote to adopt the resolution, along with the implementation of baggage messaging standards, was unanimous. This resolution follows a decade-long process of research, recommendations and specifications for how RFID should be utilized for airline baggage handling.

IATA began exploring RFID technology in 2005 as a means to reduce baggage mishandling at airlines and airports. In 2008, the association started a Baggage Improvement Program and luggage mishandling was reduced by more than 70 percent by 2012, according to Andrew Price, the head of global baggage operations for IATA’s Airport, Passenger, Cargo, Security (APCS) division.

From 2013 to 2017, the baggage mishandling rate dropped further and this was followed by the introduction of IATA Resolution 753 for luggage tracking, which became effective June 2018. “While 80 percent of airlines have an implementation plan for IATA Resolution 753,” Price says, “much remains to be done.”

RFID provides an automated approach that is faster and more accurate than barcode scanning. When RFID tags, applied to baggage, are read at airports before and after each flight, the bags can be identified and tracked without the need for human intervention.

IATA determined the timing is good for the resolution, given the increasing volume of passengers and luggage. Passenger numbers are expected to double during the next 20 years, Price said, adding more strain to existing baggage-handling systems. “Consequently, improving baggage-handling operations is paramount to ensuring that the industry is ready to cope” with the anticipated growth.

RFID Global has been one of the key providers in designing and supporting the deployment of a global airline baggage tracking system for one of the world’s leading airline carriers. With over three years’ in-the-trenches global experience, implementing RFID at almost 120 airports, our engineering team is ready to support your organization’s efforts to make automated RFID baggage tracking a reality.

In April 2019,  at the annual RFID Journal LIVE! conference in Phoenix, Arizona, RFID Global sponsored an Airline Baggage-Tracking Workshop to support RFID adoption plans by airlines and airports and we are planning another meeting in Spring 2020.