Delta to use RFID tags to track luggage

The decision could save the airline up to $100M annually

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. said today it will use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track luggage throughout its U.S. network. The decision is aimed at helping the airline save money and decrease the number of bags that are lost every year.

"Currently, less than 1% of all luggage is misdirected, and that cost the airline about $100 million annually," said Delta spokesman Reid Davis. The airline handles between 35 million and 85 million checked bags each year.

Delta will invest up to $25 million to implement the RFID technology, and if it's successful, the system could save the airline the amount of money it now spends tracking and recovering misdirected luggage, according to Davis.

Delta ran two successful tests of the technology this past spring and last fall, Davis said (see story). The airline is now meeting with vendors and putting out a request for proposals for the system, he said. It doesn't yet know when implementation will begin. Once started, the system should be completed in two years, Davis said.

"We are excited about this because of what it will mean for our customers," Davis said. "Although less than 1% of the bags are misdirected, a customer doesn't care [about that small percentage] if it's his bag."

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