Keeping a (Virtual) Eye on Your Bag

The mysterious disappearance of a checked baggage may soon be a thing of the past.  

Delta unveiled a program this month to allow passengers to track the movement of checked luggage. Delta is the first major airline to introduce a checked-baggage tracking service, which starts from when the luggage is scanned at check-in, to when it is loaded on a plane, to when it arrives at baggage claim.

Delta passengers will receive a tracking number when they check their baggage online or at the customer-service counter, which can then be followed on Delta’s Web site using smartphone apps or laptops.

And if while tracking your bag’s progress, you notice it being loaded onto the wrong flight? Paul Skrbec, a Delta spokeman, tells PLANADVISER you can notify any of the baggage services offices at the airport, adding that Delta “probably knows about it before the customer and will be attempting to fix it.”

Delta is rolling out the tracking technology around the same time as the Obama administration unveiled new rules requiring airlines to refund baggage fees for lost luggage (Delta charges $25 for one checked bag). Airlines are already required by law to compensate passengers for lost or damaged baggage, but the new laws take late-to-arrive bags into consideration as well.

On its blog, Delta recently posted four additional baggage-handling upgrades, including:

  • Proactive notifications if your bag is on a different flight by signing up for “Last Minute Updates” on
  • Self-service baggage kiosks in 18 of Delta’s busiest airports by year’s end – similar to the more common check-in kiosks, but they are located near airport baggage service offices and bag carousels. The kiosks can be used to view a bag’s status, check which carousel bags will arrive on and file a delayed bag claim, if necessary.
  • An online delayed-bag claim process (it used to be necessary to fax or mail in a lost bag claim form).
  • Rebates for bags lost beyond 12 hours; apply on for a transportation credit voucher rebate for $25 for one bag or $50 for two bags.

The Wall Street Journal also reports that the overall rate of mishandled baggage was 3.59 reports filed per 1,000 passengers in February, an improvement of 8.7% from the prior year’s rate of 3.93 per 1,000 passengers, according to the Transportation Department’s most recent monthly report. Delta’s mishandled baggage rate is below the industry average, ranking fifth out of the 16 airlines tracked by the Transportation Department. With a rate of 2.93 reports filed per 1,000 passengers, Delta improved 27% from the previous year’s rate of 4.04 per 1,000 passengers.