IATA 753 deadline looms large

12 February 2018
Airport Baggage Handling Identification (ABH-ID) system from Cognex at inter airport Europe 2017. Source: Ben Vogel

By June 2018, IATA member airlines need to ensure they can track passenger bags from origin to destination

According to the SITA Baggage Report 2017, the mishandling rate in 2016 was 70% lower than 2006 despite growing passenger traffic. Improvements have been enabled by investment in new technologies and processes, but mishandling cost airlines USD2.1 billion in 2016, and it still causes major inconvenience to the passengers affected.

IATA Resolution 753 is intended to solve this problem. It includes four main obligations for airlines: demonstrate delivery of baggage when its custody changes (at the loading stage, in transit, and on arrival at the final destination); demonstrate reception of baggage when its custody changes; provide an inventory of baggage before the flight departs; and exchange relevant delivery and reception information with other airlines. International Air Transport Association (IATA) figures show that mishandling is cut by 30–35% if an airline tracks bags from end to end.

To meet the new requirement, airlines may need to ask airports to install technology to harvest data in the terminal, or on the ramp. Traditional manual scanning is still possible but automated solutions offer greater accuracy, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency to ensure a bag reaches its intended owner at the correct destination.

Solutions include laser scanning with automated tag reader (ATR) technology – but this method is not 100% accurate because the barcode on a bag tag is sometimes too damaged to read.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology – such as chips with electronically stored information, embedded in a bag tag – offers almost 100% readability, and it is quicker because it does not require line-of-sight scanning. However, they are relatively expensive – although airports would benefit from broad RFID use (examples to date include Hong Kong and Las Vegas McCarran), airlines would foot the bill. Resolution 753 could encourage adoption of hybrid paper tags with an RFID antenna as well as a barcode or permanent RFID tags embedded in the bag or on the tag.

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