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Alaska Airlines unveils digital bag tags — but it'll come at a cost

July 20 2022
3 min read
Alaska Airlines unveils digital bag tags — but it'll come at a cost
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If all goes according to plan, Alaska Airlines will soon offer digital bag tags for your checked luggage.

The Seattle-based carrier announced on Tuesday that it'll launch an electronic bag tag device in partnership with Dutch company Bagtag later this year. Once the device is attached to your bag, you can activate it up to 24 hours before your flight through Alaska's mobile app.

After completing mobile check-in, the device will sync with your phone through an antenna that powers and reads the information transmitted from the Alaska mobile app. The device's e-paper screen will then display your digital bag tag.

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The physical device can withstand being run over a luggage cart, and it's attached to your bag using an industrial-strength plastic zip tie, according to Alaska.

(Photo courtesy of Alaska)

When you get to the airport, you can bypass the check-in kiosks and head straight to the baggage drop-off line. Your ID will be verified and you'll then be able to drop your bag, without printing any physical bag tags. Alaska estimates that this new initiative will reduce the time spent dropping off checked bags by nearly 40%.

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You can watch a visualization of the process in the video produced by Alaska below.

https://news.alaskaair.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/alaska_airlines_electronic_bag_tag-720p-1.mp4

"Not only will our electronic bag tags allow our guests to quickly drop-off their luggage after they arrive at the airport, the devices will also give our employees the opportunity to spend more one-on-one time with guests who ask for assistance and reduce lines at our lobbies,” said Charu Jain, senior vice president of merchandising and innovation at Alaska in a statement.

The rollout of the electronic bag tag program will happen in several phases.

The first phase will initially include 2,500 Mileage Plan elites who will receive an electronic bag tag later this year. In early 2023, Alaska will open up the program to additional frequent flyers, who will have the option to purchase a device for around $70 each.

Note that the $70 figure will be per device, so if you have multiple bags, you'll need to purchase multiple devices. Of course, the devices can be reused on multiple trips, but no other U.S. airline has announced support for this new electronic bag tag standard. Plus, the $70 flat device fee does not include any bag fees that Alaska charges, which start at $30 for the first bag and $40 for the second.

When the device formally launches later this year, Alaska will become the first U.S. airline to offer a digital bag tag program. The technology is already live or has been piloted with various international carriers, such as the Lufthansa Group, Air France, KLM and China Southern. The luxury luggage brand Rimowa even joined the electronic baggage tag program with pre-installed devices on its popular metal hardshell cases.

Featured photo by (Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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