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Alaska Airlines will introduce first electronic bag tags in the U.S.

The airline says electronic tags allow fliers to save time at check-in by registering luggage remotely

A rendering of the electronic bag tags Alaska Airlines will begin using later this year. (Alaska Airlines)

Alaska Airlines is launching an electronic bag-tag program it describes as the first of its kind in the United States.

The technology, which the company announced Tuesday, will allow customers to register their luggage with the airline before they get to the airport and transfer their flight information to the tags through an app on their phones.

“Guests will be able to tag their bags in just seconds and complete the entire check-in process almost all from home,” Charu Jain, senior vice president of merchandising and innovation, said in a statement.

An initial rollout for the tags in “late 2022” will include 2,500 of its frequent fliers, Alaska Airlines said. Mileage Plan members will be able to buy the electronic tags, which will replace paper tags printed at the check-in counter.

Travelers will be able to activate the tagging devices remotely up to 24 hours before their upcoming flight takes off. Alaska Airlines expects that this program will reduce the time that travelers spend dropping off their checked luggage at the airport by nearly 40 percent.

Alaska Airlines is getting rid of plastic bottles and cups for water

This is the airline’s latest announcement in a line of experiments with luggage and traveling. In March, Alaska Airlines launched a self-bag drop system at the San Jose International Airport that allows travelers to scan their boarding passes, print their own bag tag and drop off bags to be loaded onto airplanes.

Earlier this year, Alaska also began experimenting with a subscription model called Flight Pass that allows customers to take at least six round-trip flights a year on select West Coast routes for a flat monthly fee.

The electronic bag tag announcement comes during a time marked by travel chaos. Airlines facing labor shortages and high demand for travel have frustrated customers with lost or delayed luggage.

Airlines mishandled baggage at a much higher rate in April 2022 than they did in April 2021, when fewer people were flying, according to Department of Transportation data.

In April 2022, airlines mishandled nearly 220,000 of the 40 million bags they dealt with, according to a DOT report.

correction

The headline and caption originally stated that the bag tags were "electric." Although the tags could be considered electric, the more appropriate descriptor would be "electronic."

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