Alaska Airlines Is Introducing Permanent Electronic Tags For Do-It-Yourself Checked Bags

Alaska Airlines is introducing permanent luggage tags you can affix to your bags that speed up the check-in process. Passengers with these tags won’t have to print bag tags at the airport. Instead they will “activate the devices from anywhere—their home, office or even car—up to 24-hours before their flight through [Alaska’s] mobile app.”

This program will start “in late 2022” with tags for about 2500 Mileage Plan elite members. Then they’ll begin selling the tags to loyalty program members after that. They haven’t disclosed the price.

“This technology allows our guests to tag their own bags in just seconds and makes the entire check-in process almost all off-airport,” said Charu Jain, senior vice president of merchandising and innovation at Alaska.”

Here’s how it works:

What’s weird isn’t that Alaska is doing this. It’s that we haven’t had it in the United States yet.

I wonder what’s taken Alaska, and especially others that aren’t this far along, so long to develop the idea? The fact that they ae going to charge most customers for this suggests that it isn’t enough of a cost saver to justify the product. Surely giving these out to MVP Golds and above makes sense, at least if the project itself was worthwhile.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Great idea. I assume this will only work on Alaska-only itineraries.

    LF used to sell bags (via Rimowa) with eTags that “printed” the baggage tag on the side of the luggage but they abandoned it a while ago.

  2. What’s weird is that he’s checking his Rimowa cabin bag.

    At to Daniel’s point above, I thought this concept was widely seen as a failed experiment from around 10 years ago.

  3. How solidly are they attached? I’ve even had the kind of tough tags that attach with wire get lost off of luggage, undoubtedly due to rough handling. At least those sticky paper barcode tags stay on pretty tight and aren’t likely to get knocked off by tossing the luggage around. Also, with the airtags I now use to track my luggage, I can see where it is even if the airline manages not to scan it (or is driving it on a tour of the hotels of greater London), and that works regardless of airline. Hard to imagine many people would pay more than the $30 cost of an airtag for one of these that only works with one airline.

  4. If this were to work, they really need to have a universal standard. Like AirTags, but even those are iPhone only. And remember, this is the country that doesn’t have PINs on credit cards because too many people couldn’t remember them, though they’ve had them for years in Europe.

    I think the problem here is that this just adds a layer and huge capital costs to the airline, as you have to deploy it everywhere, yet all passengers aren’t going to be using it – you still have to have printed tags for the great unwashed. I like the idea, but Alaska has a huge number of tiny airports it services – are they deploying it there?

    Feature that would be cool – You stand by the baggage carousel and your bag finds you – it pops off as it goes by.

  5. Hmmm, not sure how this would work. I’m a mileage plan member (regular) and if I were to book a flight on AS in first class my bag would be tagged as priority. If on the next trip I flew coach – it wouldn’t get priority handling. So what will they do for people like me that are sometimes “a mixed bag?” No pun intended – or are they only going to offer this to the “Elites” with a mileage plan number?

  6. Or you can continue to print your own luggage tags on paper for free and attach them to the plastic tag holder provided at the airport (previously you could request these by mail). However the service is not available in all AS cities.

  7. The devices are called “BAGTAG”. There are half dozen airlines using them, mostly in Europe. Adoption is getting better as airline travel has increased. Cost would be prohibitive for most. Unless the pricing goes down, I cannot see most Americans buying the BAGTAG.

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