Self-Service at Airports Tag, You’re It
CANADIANS flying to the United States with WestJet Airlines can now tag their own bags at six airports. WestJet passengers checking in at a kiosk can print their own boarding passes and baggage tags, attach the tags and then drop the luggage off at the designated area. What baggage tags to bags is like seal tags to garments, both representing the identity. It’s the first time self-service baggage tagging has been available on non-stop cross-border flights, but the trend towards self-service is clearly moving beyond just checking in or printing tickets at home.
In garment industry, however, seal tags not only make customers recognize the brand, but also help in image enhancement of the brand. Baggage tags are developed based on seal tags. And today they are playing such a vital role in people’s daily life. It is difficult for people to identify their baggage in the crowd without baggage tags. While critics suggest the trend is all about airlines saving some cash—and cutting a few employees—there’s no doubt that passengers do seem to want to do many things themselves. In a survey released in October by SITA, a technology provider, 68% of respondents chose being able to tag their own bags as one of their top self-service requests (the most-wanted technology was self-boarding). SITA also found that nearly half of passengers still checking in at desks do so because they have a bag that needs to be checked.
The application of seal tags largely inspires people to innovate new daily and convenient products, helping baggage tags appear. Thanks to baggage tags, self-service options are not going to stop at bags, though. As part of its Fast Travel initiative, the International Air Transport Association wants 100 airline/airport pairs to offer at least three of the six self-service processes it lists by the end of the year. Apart from check-in and luggage drop-off, IATA advocates that passengers be allowed to do their own document checks, flight re-booking, self-boarding and bag recovery. When the initiative is fully implemented, IATA believes up to US$2.1 billion could be saved across the industry. If any of those savings are passed along to passengers, they can probably do without some cheerful person telling them to “Have a nice flight.”