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Alaska Airlines to offer digital baggage tags in U.S. first

As part of efforts to make its service more efficient, Alaska Airlines is to start offering some of its passengers digital baggage tags in what it claims is a first for U.S carriers.

This means that both Alaska Airlines passengers and check-in staff will no longer have to deal with traditional baggage tags, a move that will save not only paper but also everyone’s valuable time.

Alaska Airlines' digital baggage tags.
Alaska Airlines’ digital baggage tags. Alaska Airlines

Passengers can activate the tags from any location up to 24 hours before their flight by jumping into Alaska Airlines’ mobile app.

To get started, you simply touch the smartphone used for check-in to the digital bag tag, which then reads the relevant information transmitted from the phone. The e-paper bag tag’s display will then automatically show the traveler’s flight information.

The carrier said its digital bag tags are expected to reduce the time spent dropping off checked luggage by an impressive 40%.

“This technology allows our guests to tag their own bags in just seconds and makes the entire check-in process almost all off-airport,” Charu Jain, senior vice president of merchandising and innovation at Alaska, said this week.

Jain added: “Not only will our electronic bag tags allow our guests to quickly drop off their luggage after they arrive at the airport, the devices will also give our employees the opportunity to spend more one-on-one time with guests who ask for assistance and reduce lines at our lobbies.”

When the digital tags are introduced later this year, Alaska will offer them first to around 2,500 of its frequent fliers, before expanding the service to its Mileage Plan members in early 2023.

But while the frequent fliers will be handed the tags for free, the Mileage Plan members will have to pay a currently unannounced fee to use them. If the digital tags prove popular among its passengers, there’s a good chance Alaska will offer them to more travelers later on.

Alaska Airlines likes to experiment with new technology. In 2018, for example, the carrier trialed VR headsets for passengers in what it claimed was another first for U.S. airlines.

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