Delta leverages RFID, introduces innovative baggage tracking process

Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) is deploying Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) baggage tracking technology, a first for US carriers, providing customers with improved real-time tracking of luggage throughout the travel experience, the company said.

This move marks a historic shift for Delta and the 120 million bags it handles annually. RFID will replace barcode hand scanning — the industry standard since the early 90s. With this new technology, scanners use radio waves to capture highly accurate and consistent data stored on an RFID chip embedded in the luggage tag, driving superior tracking and increased transparency.

With RFID, customers will see their bags on and off the aircraft during their journey via push notifications to the Fly Delta mobile app beginning in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Initial deployments of RFID integrated throughout the baggage process show that bags are tracked at a 99.9 percent success rate, ensuring proper routing and loading.

Delta teams have deployed 4,600 scanners, installed 3,800 RFID bag tag printers and integrated 600 pier and claim readers to enable hands-free scanning of baggage throughout the handling process. RFID will soon track bags on all Delta mainline and Delta Connection flights.

Spread throughout 84 of Delta´s largest stations, 1,500 belt loaders will give baggage the green light — literally — as it enters and exits the belly of a plane. The belt loader sensor will flash green when the bag is being loaded on the correct aircraft or red when the bag requires additional handling.

Today when a customer misses his or her connection, agents on the ground manually scan each bag to find the customer´s luggage and ensure it is retagged for the new flight. With RFID scanners, agents have the ability to take inventory quickly or pinpoint a single bag.

Delta Air Lines serves nearly 180 million customers each year. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta employs nearly 80,000 employees worldwide and operates a mainline fleet of more than 800 aircraft.