When it rolls out its RFID technology at the end of the year, Delta will become the first U.S. airline to offer this type of real-time luggage tracking to its customers. The airline plans to install its RFID system in 344 stations worldwide, using it to replace the standard handheld barcode scanners that have been in use throughout the airline industry since the early 1990s.
Delta’s new tracking system uses luggage tags with embedded RFID sensors that are attached to each bag when they are checked in by passengers. Instead of having an attendant scan each tag manually, Delta will use a series of carefully placed scanners designed to detect each RFID tag and store any information, such as customer data, that is associated with the tag. This is expected to allow the company to track bags as they move through the handling process with a 99.9 percent success rate. This tracking data is then stored and made available to agents, who can use the system to find the most recent scan of a piece of luggage and see both where the item has traveled and where it is currently located.
Delta is ramping up as it prepares to launch the RFID system at the end of 2016. The airline has been installing 4,600 scanners in 84 of its largest stations. Many of the scanners are being added to belt loaders, allowing the airline to scan packages automatically after they are checked by a passenger. It also has 3,800 RFID bag tag printers, and 600 pier and claim readers to allow for the hands-free scanning of packages.
Not only will the system provide information for agents, it also has several consumer-friendly features, including real-time tracking information and a notification system that provides customers with information about their luggage as they travel from their origin to their destination. These notifications will be available to passengers who have the Fly Delta mobile app installed on their mobile device.