Is Automation the end of Mishandled Airline Baggage

Passengers expect their bags to take off and land with them, driving one the biggest pain points for Aviation industry whenever baggage handling goes south. Let’s put this into numbers – the operational cost of baggagehandling is approx. ten dollars for an airline. However, when it’s mishandled, the same cost goes upto$100. And this is not taking into account the loss of a customer satisfaction or the impact of negative social media reviews.With 2016 marking the digitization of baggage handling systems, industry initiatives and IATA benchmarks; aviation is actively looking to improve their baggage handling efficiency, increase capacity and process transparency.

Baggage At –a-glance:

  • 3.5 billion passengers enplaned in 2015
  • 50.7% cut in total mishandled bags since 2007
  • US$22.4 mishandled bags per thousand passengers in 2015
  • US$2.3 billion mishandled bags cost in 2015
  • 20% used self bag drop in the last flight
  • 31% intend to use self bag drop in the next trip
  • Passengers wait times at baggage carousel average 10-30 mins

Over the last few years, the accelerated growth of passengers(an extra 218 million passengers in 2015)has seen a corresponding increase in the number of baggage to be managed. Remarkably, this rise sharply contrasts with a decrease in lost or mishandled bags. This can be attributed to 2 key things – Technology and Process Efficiency.

TECHNOLOGY: Technologies like self-service baggage drop, real-time baggage updates, online baggage claims form, beacons for efficient tracking, devices for on-ground crew among others have helped to quickly and accurately track the baggage and get it to the customer. By combining data points and device mobility, it provides real-time end-to-end baggage journey notifications to the passenger.

In guaranteed push to this, Aviation bodies like IATA are taking an interest in baggage infrastructure efficiencies whether it is through a common airport Ground Operations Manual or Resolution 753 (requires IATA members to “maintain an accurate inventory of baggage by monitoring the acquisition and delivery of baggage.”) that will drive full visibility and seamless data transparency across stakeholders. One of busiest countries, USA’s AIRR (Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization) Bill states that if airlines fail to give the custody of the mishandled bag to a traveller in 24 hours, they are liable to return the baggage handling fees.

Such stringent benchmarks and requisites are making all stakeholders rethink baggage strategy.The priority for aviation is to provide more baggage self-service options for the passenger, making the processes and the journey less stressful. In terms of back-end, the aim is to bridge the data gap and transparency efficiencies with devices and seamless processes for all stakeholders – airlines, baggage handlers and ground assistance. Many 3rd party providers are reducing baggage mishandling by tracking custody across different phases of the baggage chain and improving customer service of the service chain via IoT, Mobility apps and Indoor tracking systems.

current baggage handling

It’s important to remember that bag-drop and other self-service initiatives are not just about the device; it’s imperative to match up operational processes and IT systems for an overall successful service. For example when it comes to disruptions or rebookings – having baggage tagging is helpful only if your queue management and customer support processes are also helping the passenger.

Take for example in the event of irregular operations or missed flights, providers will be able to re-route bags as per their requests in real-time – meaning redirecting it their existing location or sending it on an alternative flight.

Automated Systems and Processes: IGT’s Baggage Claims handling solution helps automate the most stressful part of bag owner’s journey – when its mishandled. In this case, often a passenger is running from pillar to post, in a foreign location, making innumerable calls and waiting for any information to reach him. The cumbersome process of manually filling ‘Lost Baggage’ forms followed by sending the physical documentary proofs delays the process of locating the bag and resolving claims.

optimized baggage handling

  • 62% of passengers would use a self-process missing bag report system via their smartphone, if this were available
  • 54% of passengers would use a self-process missing bag report system via a kiosk at the airport, if this were available
  • 65% airlines to provide self-service option by 2017

IGT’s solution optimizes and automates the baggage claim handling process. Passengers can log-in on their mobile devices or on the crew’s device to IGT’s Baggage Claim Solution and submit their claim. Receipt copies too can be scanned/clicked and uploaded reducing the inconvenience of an already ‘unhappy experience’ for the passenger,while keeping information automated and detailed for airlines to process.

  • ‘1-step to claim’ process to submit online claims:
  • No need to download & print form
  • Fill information online through multiple channels
  • Scan/click and upload receipt copies
  • Instant availability of the claim form for agents
  • Automated process to open, sort & scan claim forms and save manual work by the agents
  • Allows customer to check claim status online

The ultimate aim is to give passengers direct access to the same baggage handling information and track its movement while complying with IATA’s baggage tracking resolution. Additionally, this reduces ground operations cost and enhancing customer experience. “Around two-thirds of passengers have said that they would definitely use such a service, so that they can act immediately and self-process missing bag reports at the airport, either using their smartphones or other online devices, kiosks and others.” (*Sita Report)

IGT’s Baggage Claims solution is available as API. This allows for easy and quick integrations for airlines their existing systems quickly and easily, including readiness to cater to future requirements which they might offer to passengers. IGT provides services for end to end baggage management including Baggage Helpdesk Services, tracking and airline mobile apps.

PROCESS: It’s important to align, process, people and technology to actuate the efficiencies that one hopes to build with innovative solution investments. When combining front end services with back office functions it helps achieve economies of scale. This means having unified support teams across the globe, processing the right query to the right resource, managing queue efficiency and ultimately getting the right bag to the passenger. In 2017, 79% airlines will provide real-time baggage information to their staff. Eithad Airlines is building Baggage CoE and aiming for a 100per cent baggage reconciliation system.


Passengers are keen for more transparency and control when it comes to processing their luggage and more information about what is happening to their bags on the journey. Baggage is on the radar of the aviation industry in a big way and the supporting technology innovations will only build the readiness factor of an industry which is gearing up for more passengers, more luggage and more cost savings.


  • SITA The Baggage report 2016

About the Author:
Renee Kishore is digital marketing specialist, and a published author. A researcher and writer of change tactics and technologies in travel and other verticals, she frequently posts across the digital ecosystem. With 8-yrs of experience in communications and marketing, Renee has a passion for discussions and can be reached at: