Air passengers may never again need to check or pick up baggage at the airport or worry about losing it if a new "smart" suitcase technology from Airbus gets off the ground.
Bag2Go is an "intelligent suitcase" that is equipped with a smartchip and location-based technology that store a passenger's flight information and allow the bag to be checked in and picked up independently of the passenger and to be tracked from departure to its destination.
The technology is a combination of a radio-frequency identification chip, mobile phone technology and GPS.
The suitcase prototype, which is being previewed at the International Pairs Air Show next week, was created by aircraft manufacturer Airbus together with German technology company T-Systems, a division of Deutsche Telekom, and luggage maker Rimowa.
Flight data is entered into a display on the suitcase via an iPhone app and is transmitted to the airline, which generates a bar code that is sent back to the 'smart' unit on the suitcase. A unique bar code is created for each flight and contains the flight details along with information such as the weight of the suitcase and the name and contact details of the owner.
"This data allows the suitcase to go travelling independently of its owner, right to the destination — even if flights are changed or cancelled at short notice, or a connecting flight is not made," T-Systems said in a press release.
Technology can tell you if bag was opened
The software in the suitcase can also register whether the bag has been opened en route and informs the owner when and where this occurred. The bag also has a wireless scale that syncs up with your smartphone allowing you to check its weight simply by lifting the bag's handle.
The ability to check in bags remotely means airlines and logistics companies will be able offer a Bag2Go pickup and drop-off service, the creators said. Passengers will no longer have to check their bags in at the airport or wait around for them at the baggage carousel but will be able to rent a Bag2Go that can be checked in and dropped off at their home or hotel.
"This substantially cuts waiting time at check-in and upon arrival," the T-Systems release said. "Additionally, airline passengers retain full control over their baggage, and the weightiest part of any airline trip is a thing of the past."
Baggage pickup and delivery services already exist, but the smart-bag system will make the process more seamless and will be cheaper, Airbus chief innovation officer Yann Barbaux told Australian Business Traveller magazine. He said that while existing baggage pickup services cost about $40, Airbus might be able to offer the Bag2Go service for as little as $13.
9 bags per 1,000 passengers mishandled
The Bag2Go also has the potential to save airlines significant costs for baggage handling and lost or delayed luggage, the manufacturers claim. Mishandled luggage cost the airline industry $2.6 billion last year, according to SITA, which specializes in air transport IT and communications and tracks industry numbers.
There were 8.83 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers in 2012, with a total 2.95 billion passengers travelling that year. That was a decline of 44.5 per cent from six years ago, SITA said.
Of the mishandled bags, 5.67 bags per 1,000 passengers were delayed.
Almost half of all delayed bags were delayed because of a mishandled bag transfers. Another 17 per cent were not loaded on the plane and 13 per cent were delayed because of a ticketing error, bag switch, security or other type of error, SITA said.