There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination only to discover that your luggage is on another flight… headed halfway across the world. Over the last few years, Delta Air Lines has invested millions of dollars in improving their baggage system. So it comes as no surprise that they would now be testing self-service baggage drop kiosks, which include the use of biometrics. Over the course of the summer, Delta will be testing these baggage drop kiosks at the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport. Delta hopes that these new kiosks will improve the customer experience, decrease the number of mishandled bags, and save the industry billions of dollars.

 

The Hard Facts 

Now, you might be asking yourself: “Why would an airline bother investing in their baggage system?” Let’s take a look at some hard facts. SITA recently released their 2017 baggage industry report, called “The Baggage Report,” which states that:

  • 4 billion people will fly in 2017
  • 5 billion bags will be handled by the baggage industry’s systems worldwide in 2017
  • 6 million bags were mishandled in 2016
  • 47% of mishandled bags occur during the transfer process
  • In 2016, the total cost to reunite passengers with their mishandled bags was CAD$2.7 billion
In 2016, the cost to reunite passengers with their mishandled bags was CAD$2.7 billion Click To Tweet

And while these numbers have definitely improved over the last few years, the number of mishandled bags will drastically decrease with the implementation of new technology and save the industry more than CAD$3.9 billion in the coming years.

Now, let’s take a step back and look at the improvements Delta has made to their baggage system over the last few years.

 

The First Improvement –RFID

In 2016, Delta launched their Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) program. Basically, a little chip is embedded in a bag tag. The bag tag is then placed in a passenger’s bag and can be tracked in real-time throughout its journey. There are two main benefits to using RFID:

  1. Paper tags tend to wear out over the course of travel, making them difficult to read, whereas RFID chips do not
  2. RFID readers are able to read a bag tag even when it’s under other baggage which means there is less manipulation of bags, and a pile of bags can be scanned in mere seconds

The use of RFID in bag tracking has led to a decrease in the number of mishandled bags. Since its launch, Delta has reported that bags have been tracked at a 99.9% success rate. The tracking data ensures that bags are properly transferred and loaded onto the correct flights.

 

The Second Improvement –Fly Delta

Delta took it one step further when they introduced their mobile app, Fly Delta, in 2011. Initially, their mobile app provided passengers with bag tracking information. In 2016, they upgraded their app to include an actual map view of the bag’s journey, as well as updates through push notifications.

Fly Delta now sends passengers a push notification whenever their bag is loaded on and off each flight. Passengers also receive notifications with their flight’s code and destination, and when their bag has reached bag claim. Once the bag has reached bag claim, the passenger receives a notification telling them which carousel to go to in order to pick up their bag.

 

If passengers don’t have their bags within ten minutes, their satisfaction level decrease. Click To Tweet

 

The Newest Improvement –Self-Service Baggage Drop Kiosks

This summer, Delta will be testing four self-service lanes at the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport. Self-service lanes aren’t a new concept, as several airlines already use them. However, Delta is the first airline to incorporate biometrics with their self-service lanes.

When the passenger arrives at the airport, the process will unfold as such:

  1. The passenger will go to a check-in kiosk to print their bag tag
  2. They will then go to one of the self-service baggage drop machines and scan their boarding pass
  3. Biometric lane –those using the biometric lane won’t require an agent to verify their identity; and will instead scan their face, place their bag onto the conveyor belt, and head over to security
  4. Regular lanes –those using the other three self-service lanes will still require an agent to verify their information before their bags will be accepted

This is the next step in curating an airport experience that integrates thoughtful innovation from start to finish,” said Gareth Joyce, Delta’s senior vice president of airport customer service and cargo, in a recent release. “We’re making travel easier than ever for our customers and continuing to deliver a leading customer experience.”

 

A Future Filled with Improvement

Even if a passenger receives perfect service in every other area of their air travel journey, if they are not reunited with their bags within ten minutes, their satisfaction level begins to decrease. This unhappiness is what Delta hopes to be able to counteract.

With these new improvements, Delta will be able to reduce passenger wait times and ameliorate their overall customer experience. They also picture a future where “Delta agents will be freed up to seek out travellers and deliver more proactive and thoughtful customer service,” said Joyce.

Share with us, in the comments below, your worst ever baggage experience. We want to know!

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