Alaska Airlines plans to be the first U.S. airline to offer digital bag tags for checked luggage. The innovative program, which is expected to start later this year for travelers at California’s San Jose International Airport, is intended to make the bag-check process easier for users and free up airline employees to help other passengers.
Here’s how the high-tech tags work: Travelers check in using their mobile phone as usual, then place their phone on the bag tag, allowing the devices to sync. When complete, the digital tag displays the traveler’s destination and barcode.
At the airport, the traveler goes direct to a baggage drop-off line, shows identification, and drops off the bag. Alaska estimates that the tags will reduce bag check-in time by nearly 40 percent.
But the efficiency won’t be free for most. Alaska Airlines plans to provide free tags to about 2,500 frequent fliers, then make the tags available for purchase to loyalty program members in early 2023. Each digital bag tag is expected to cost about $70.
KLM and Lufthansa are among the international airlines currently supporting digital tags.