IATA: Global deployment of RFID for baggage tracking

With the advent of RFID technology (Radio Frequency Identification), baggage tracking during both domestic and international travel or transportation has become easier. Be it the tourism, hospitality or cargo industries, these implementations are possible on both aviation and shipping lines. IATA (International Air Transport Association) decided in mid-2019 to do just this at their 75th annual convention. The idea is to be able to accurately monitor the location of any specific baggage during its journey in real-time. Steps like these are taken at all stages to reduce misplacement, theft and associated issues, including damage (or pilferage). The deployment of RFID for baggage tracking around the world has helped to bring down the number of mishandled or lost baggage to a large extent.

The Global Baggage Statistics

This excerpt from IATA’s pressroom clearly demonstrates the opportunity and viability that such a venture puts forward:

According to a report from SITA, an IT provider for the air transport industry, delivering solutions for airlines, airports, aircraft and governments, out of the 4.3 billion bags handled by airports, 0.6% were mishandled in 2018. Since 2007, baggage mishandling has come down by 70%. Thanks to RFID technology, most of the mishandled bags could be sent to their owners within a couple of days.

RFID read rates are highly precise and significantly improved compared to barcodes. Furthermore, the messaging systems of today’s standards help airlines to actively take required action when there is a case of mishandling. Combining RFID technological solutions and modern messaging standards will serve to reduce the mishandling rate by at least 25%.

Features of RFID Technology

RFID has played a key role in the substantial improvement over mishandling rates (which have effectively reduced over the past decade). Passengers or consumers need their belongings at the earliest opportunity. In case this does not happen, they deserve to know the whereabouts of their baggage. By applying RFID technology and harnessing its power, customers will find their luggage within an appropriate time frame (paraphrased by Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO).

Now this proposition will ensure that airlines migrate from barcoded bag tags to more advanced RFID inlays. Then, the exchange and communication of captured data take place within as well as between airports for better outcomes. This optimised inter collaboration will prevent mishandlings, especially at the ground level. Although establishing a specific timeframe is uncertain, we expect that this scheme’s adoption globally within four years. Now, this global deployment of RFID for baggage tracking is becoming a reality.

Partnering with other vendors in this drive will help its success with universal adoption of such handling within the infrastructure. Begin integrating this as a default guideline to also replace existing manual tracking methods (where possible). All actions will become fruitful only with the mutual support and cooperation of the entire team involved.

Advantages of RFID technology in baggage tracking

RFID technology in baggage tracking

RFID utilises radio-frequency electromagnetic fields which transfer data. This then automatically identifies and monitors baggage tags. The tags are small chips that contain encoded information about the baggage that is easily retrievable using an RFID reader. The technology doesn’t require any human intervention. Few of the major benefits of employing solutions backed by RFID technology include:

  1. Enhanced complete tracking: Boosting bag monitoring reduces mishandling and improves efficiency in baggage handling. Trials have demonstrated a quarter decrease in mishandled baggage.Enriched aircraft (un)loading practices with faster turnaround times consequently reduce flight delays. This also leads to greater automation and initiative, reducing manual operations.
  2. Convenient adoption of resolution 753: Application and operation price affiliated with additional new monitoring points will decrease. Furthermore, the initial setup cost is much less with RFID than with conventional barcode scanners. Now, you can track your baggage more efficiently.
  3. Better data integrity: Currently, baggage barcodes are devoid of any error correction capability. Hence, data reading becomes susceptible to distortion. However, using RFID yields almost full success without requiring any manual intervention or a direct line of sight.

Advantages of applying modern baggage messaging standards

Baggage mishandling is usually attributed to miscommunication or stoppage of messaging. Standardised messaging language and processes unify and make this accessible as well as interpretable for every pertinent party. The advantages of applying modern baggage messaging standards include:

  • Fidelity data content: The volume of data involved with communication and reception increases and also facilitates improving the receiving time and accuracy to a great extent.
  • Reduced complexity: It reduces the entire complexity associated with baggage mishandling as using fewer formats facilitates simpler interpretation and action.
  • Enhanced security: Current messaging lacks data security, whereas modern standards add an encryption layer and data exchange signature, authenticating the information.
  • Lower cost of manual handling: Improvements in timely communication of baggage data for every party will lower costs of manually resolving issues.
  • Reduced messaging cost: Contemporary messaging works with teletype messages, which incur considerable costs. These messaging standards apply over the internet without any individual message charges.

Aims of using RFID technology

Cease restricting identification and processing of baggage by implementing RFID, especially as global travel is set to double over the next decade. From June 2018, enhancing the efficiency and ensuring it at the IATA Passenger Services Conference Resolution 753 regarding baggage tracking became mandatory.

Firstly, you should acknowledge the need for the development and application of advanced, purposeful and efficient airport infrastructure that supports the collection of baggage tracking data. After that, calibrate both airport authorities and airlines to contribute and cooperate with the above-mentioned infrastructure in order to meet the needs and requirements of passengers.

This extends to a default standard across the board to collect baggage tracking information. Airlines may therefore need to add additional solutions to complement baggage tracking operations. This will also reduce environmental waste by finding sustainable manufacturing and recycling methods.

Recommendations From The 75th IATA Annual General Meeting

  1. The airlines and airports must work together to develop the most inexpensive and efficient solutions for collecting data on baggage tracking.
  2. Airports must immediately employ the use of RFID technology, in addition to other associated systems, into their airport infrastructure to effortlessly undertake the handling of baggage and related activities.
  3. Airlines must only use top-class RFID inlays in compliance with IATA standards for labelling the baggage.
  4. The airports and ground handlers must use real-time tracking data to actively identify and prevent improper handling of baggage. They should have proper systems in place to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.
  5. Urges the ground handling staff to employ RFID technology instead of manual tracking processes everywhere possible.
  6. Counsel’s airports, airlines and ground handlers to commence modern baggage messaging using IATA standards.’


RFID tagging is set to revolutionise how the baggage industry operates in terms of quicker processing times and more efficient transfers. This will promote higher traceability and minimise mishandling. Such improvements will also boost the accountability of airlines and cargo carriers towards their customers. RFID is the way forward for baggage tracking.

Technowave aims to simplify your search for procuring RFID by offering innovative RFID technological solutions. We have partnered with global brands like Datalogic and Zebra technology for their range of RFID label printers. Furthermore, our association with reputed brands like Nordic ID and Omini ID for their class of RFID antennas and readers helps us to come up with inexpensive and feasible solutions for our buyers. Our experienced set of employees can help you with choosing the right technological solutions to meet your needs, completely adhering to your budget.

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