After Hours

British Airways likely to invest in RFID

Airline believes it could save about $732 million by introducing the tracking tech, according to reports in the British press.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor on
British Airways hopes that investing in radio frequency identification technology will cut its lost-luggage bills, according to reports in the British press.

BA's chief executive, Rod Eddington, announced at a meeting of the International Air Transport Association that he supports the introduction of RFID at the expense of traditional sticker bar codes, according to reports in several daily papers. It's hoped the tech changeover will mean passengers' bags don't go astray en route.

BA loses about 18 bags per 1,000 and pays customers an average of about $100 (55 pounds) per lost piece of luggage, the reports said. Bags are lost largely as a result of sticker bar codes being damaged or misread.

The airline believes it could save about $732 million by introducing RFID because the technology could reduce the read-error rate to nearly zero, the reports said. The chips will also be inserted into--rather than attached to--bags, which makes them less likely than bar code labels to be separated from the luggage. And, unlike bar codes, the tags can be read without a direct line of sight.

Eddington also reportedly advocated a one-system approach for the world's airlines in order to avoid interoperability problems.

While some airlines have already tried out RFID, BA has previously been reluctant to consider a full-scale rollout. However, the airline reportedly suffered a high-profile baggage disaster last year when 11,000 bags were lost following strikes.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.

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