RFID Tags Could Mean No More Lost Luggage

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CNN reports today about using RFID tags on luggage. It’s being tested in Hong Kong Airport.

“If you have a misplaced piece of luggage today, someone has to physically stand next to it, or the bag has to pass in front of the reader before we know where it is,” he said. “What RFID does is that the bag proactively says, ‘I’m here,’ and then we can go and find it much quicker.”

Elie Simon of TAGSYS, which makes RFID tags, says that one of the benefits of the technology is how easily it can be integrated within the existing airport infrastructure.

“The beauty of RFID is that nothing has to be changed in order to introduce these processes in the airport. It’s just, we simply add a little bit of electronics on the luggage tag and we put reading system stations all the way through,” he said.

But the tags — at around 10 cents apiece — are not cheap, which is slowing down implementation.

On top of that, there is capital investment, including scanners on each carousel, at check-in desks and transit points — all of which are big ticket items at a time when efficiency and cost cutting are the buzzwords of aviation.

In 2005, 30 million bags were either temporarily or permanently misplaced in transit.