Alaska Airlines Adopts RFID Electronic Luggage Tag

Alaska Airlines Adopts RFID Electronic Luggage Tag

Alaska Airlines provides high-tech baggage tags for 500 passengers who often fly, accelerating check-in procedures. The airline is using ViewTag provided by Vanguard ID Systems, equipped with electronic paper screens, BLE and passive EPC Gen2 UHF RFID embedded. In November 2016, the airline plans to evaluate the results of the use and decide whether to continue promoting ViewTag.

ViewTag has been on the market for more than 10 years, and airlines are using these tags to replace traditional QR codes and paper luggage tags to identify and track passenger baggage. ViewTag is an intelligent, electronic, reusable baggage tag designed to reduce passenger queuing and better locate baggage. In its initial version, ViewTag uses NFC and UHF RFID technology and is equipped with an electronic paper screen to display the three-letter code of the passenger destination airport. In this version used by Alaska Airlines, it is equipped with a larger electronic paper screen for BLE communication with smart phones. In this way, passengers can use the built-in Bluetooth technology of the mobile phone to update flight information (flight number, destination, etc.).

(Vanguard ID Systems' ViewTag has a built-in passive UHF inlay that can be used to track and identify baggage; the tag is also equipped with an electronic paper screen to display passenger flight numbers and terminal points in the form of text and two-dimensional codes)

The latest version of ViewTag is also equipped with an NFC function that can be used to update flight information on an electronic paper screen.

Over the past few years, Vanguard ID has been working with Alaska Airlines’ CX Labs (customer research and development team) to reduce some of the hassle of air travel. The team was established in 2013 and a project on this team has shortened the waiting time. The team also tested fingerprint boarding pass and ID cards. Currently, the team is working on a better way to track baggage movements.

Last summer, the airline piloted ViewTag and distributed labels to 50 employees and 50 passengers. Loesje DeGroen, Alaska Airlines’ customer research and development manager, said: “So far, employees and passengers are satisfied with the label. Therefore, this summer, we will expand the test to 500 passengers.”

The airline also offers a boarding application, and 500 regulars using ViewTag can use the app to check baggage. The label measures 3 inches by 2 inches and is attached to the luggage by a nylon rope bag. Since the tag is equipped with a Bluetooth module, the tag can communicate with the smartphone (battery life 3-5 years).

First of all, passengers log on the mobile application and check in as prompted. This action can be done anytime, anywhere. When passengers want to register their luggage, they can use application operations to display flight numbers and terminal information on an electronic screen. In this way, users can present information to the registration desk and no longer need to print traditional paper luggage tags.

ViewTag has a built-in Impinj Monza 5 RFID chip, and the company will use other RFID hardware in the future.

Airline staff can also use tag UHF RFID to quickly identify tags and send baggage location information to customers. If RFID readers are installed above the baggage conveyor, each baggage tag can be read. In this way, passengers can know more detailed location information.

In addition, if the baggage fails to arrive at the destination airport as expected, the passenger can receive the information and enter the address as prompted. In this way, passengers do not need to wait and report this information in the baggage receiving area.

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