The GPS luggage tags that could change how you travel

Harriet Green
Follow Harriet
Passengers wait for their suitcases (Source: Getty)

Flights are notorious when it comes to keeping luggage safe, particularly for those who travel by plane regularly.

With passengers understandably going to great lengths to distinguish their belongings - from gaudy stickers, oversized labels and, in some cases, spray paint - a technological step forward seems sensible.

That’s the thinking of several leading airlines, anyway, several of which are working on a digital alternative to the traditional luggage label, reports the New York Times (NYT).

Interestingly, the move is emanating from the airlines themselves, as they team up with specialist companies, rather than from retailers.

Lost luggage is, of course, a big problem for the industry, so it’s not just travellers who’ll benefit from knowing exactly where a bag is. According to Airbus, 26m bags go missing each year. Most of the time it’s a case of loss through misdirection, but a small portion do go walkabouts because of mistaken identity.

Enter the GPS luggage tag - a technology that'll make it impossible for you to lose your luggage.

Last year, British Airways tested a digital tag and, in an email to the NYT, a spokesperson said the airline hopes to have made the product available to customers by the end of the year. It'll impact not just finding your bag, but the faff of getting it onto the plane in the first place.

The device is designed to create a hassle-free check-in experience.

It will save them time at the airport. The personalized digital bag tag changes with the swipe of a smartphone to upload the traveler’s next destination.

Air France-KLM is working with a London and Amsterdam-based technology firm called FastTrack Company to develop a tracking system that uses a smartphone app.

A tracking device is put in the luggage and uses GPS, Bluetooth and GSM cellular technology to link with the app. A tag goes on the outside of the suitcase displaying the destination barcode and connecting with the tracker inside.

Air France is also hoping to roll out its product by the end of the year, says the NYT.

And Airbus is making headway on a suitcase with an embedded digital tag. Bag2Go will rely on a cellular connection and GPS, too. It’ll be available soon, though no specific date has been given.