American Airlines Now Requires Passengers To Fill Out Regional Jet Valet Bag Tags

Smaller regional jets don’t have overhead bins that will hold regular-sized carry on bags. On those planes, passengers usually tag them at the gate and drop them off at the bottom of the jet bridge before getting on the plane. Those bags are then returned to the jet bridge on arrival – customers don’t have to go to baggage claim to collect them. It’s (usually) a much faster process.

At American Airlines this means Embraer 140 and 145 aircraft, along with Bombadier CRJ-200, CRJ-700, and CRJ-900 aircraft. (Embraer E175s have larger overhead bins that will hold rollaboards.)

One problem airlines face, though, is that while people put their names and other identifying information on checked bags, they often don’t tag their carry on bags.

So while bags receive ‘valet tags’ at the gate, sometimes the bags don’t get reunited with customers – either because they’re misdirected or because a customer forgets to wait for them, only realizing later they never got their bag.

As American Airlines observes in a new policy memo,

These tags are not recorded anywhere in Qik/Sabre. Because of this, when customers do not pick up their bags at their destination, we may have little to no contact information to use to reunite them with their bags. This increases our mishandled baggage reports, may incur baggage delivery costs and provides a poor customer experience.

As a result, American has a new policy requiring customers to complete personal information fields (passenger name and telephone number) on the back of the valet tags they’re given. Boarding announcements for American Eagle regional jet flights operated by covered aircraft have been updated to spell out this requirement.

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. Seems sensible to me. All airlines should be doing this, it’s a cheap and low hassle way to make sure people’s bags get back to them.

    (One of my travel policies is that I always, always have a pen with me. You never know when you might need one!)

  2. @ Gary — Recently on arrival at CLT (fortunately my final destination), the bag handler ripped the tag off of my valet-checked bag. Consequently, I was required to produce the other half of the tag (a photo on my phone was not acceptable). I was told that without the tag, I would not be able to get my bag without going to the baggage ofice. WIth a typical idiotic 35 minute scheduled connection in CLT, this would have turned into a nightmare if I had been on a connection. Only American could provide such nightmare customer service. They make a mistake, so the customer must be punished for it.

  3. AA just lost my bag on a gate check on the regional from DFW to SAF. Not sure how this is even possible that it disappeared in the 25 feet from the jet bridge to the plane. But one month later, it’s simply gone.

  4. What a joke. If people walk off without their bags after a flight, that’s on them. Doubtful this will be enforced for long. Gate agents will be forced to choose between enforcing this policy or meeting the D0 policy. I bet the latter wins out.

  5. Annoying. Delta has a system to scan the valet tag before the boarding pass to attach it to the customer record. AA chooses to put the burden on the customer

  6. @Jennifer P Actually, AA needs to update its technology.

    When gate checking a bag on DL the valet tag is canned and then you scan your boarding pass a second time to link the tag number to the passenger. AA needs to stop expecting its passengers to do what I is capable of doing.

  7. I almost always have a name tag on every bag I take including my carry-on and my personal item. It sounds like the airlines should be producing full tags for the largest sizes of carry on bags and only scanning them into the system if the bag is actually taken from the customer. This would speed up things considerably in some cases and the airline would be sure to have the legible, correct information for the customer. Airline bag tags for checked bags are now coming from a self service machine. Extras for cabin baggage wouldn’t be hard to make.

  8. Back in the CO days, I’d have the same gate check tag on my bag for weeks at a time. Never a problem!

  9. We are always supposed to have identification on all pieces. That should be sufficient.

  10. We have the same luggage tags on our carryons as on our checked bags. It’s just a sensible precaution in case something happens. It also differentiates ours from the sea of similar bags.

  11. two things:

    1) As usual, Gary marking a mountain out of a molehill.
    2) Willing to bet this won’t actually be enforced, because it will make it harder for AA GA to meet D0 targets.

  12. @Bob – what mountain? I don’t claim this is a huge thing, just a change in official procedure and announcement, and seems useful and interesting for frequent flyers to know

  13. Any chance the airline can place a valet tag on the bag and scan it at boarding so as to associate the valet tag with the info from the boarding pass and PNR itself? Sometimes there has been scanning of the valet bag tag at the boarding gate itself at smaller airports.

    Even without that, I’ve had my bags valet tagged for valet delivery a lot — welcome to often ending up on Barbie jets and sometimes still even prop planes — and not had any gone missing. Strollers also get valet tagged one way or another.

    There was a time several years ago when some airline didn’t load any of the valet-tagged bags and I don’t know how that got resolved. Maybe AA had a recent incident or series of incidents of such sort?

    I am not looking forward to bringing out a pen to scribble on a valet tag each time so I will probably reuse the same filled-in tag repeatedly for as long as possible and allowed by the airline. That and toss in an active AirTag and TilePro tracker to get a bit more informed about developments.

  14. I appreciate the update, Señor Leff.

    I am often a regional Barbie jet jumper, and it’s good to know this may be coming up for my next AA flights. Especially as someone who does not want to have to fill in things by hand at the last minute. And who knows how the chicken scratching writings will be interpreted.

  15. I am sure that American could program its machines to make automated valet tags an option with passenger name and flight itinerary so that passengers wouldn’t have to fill any of that information out. Plus it would expedite the boarding process in case their bags need to be checked since at the flight information would be already on the valet tag.

  16. I would be fine with this but I’ve found in the last year that instead of valet tagging the bag, AA is making customers check to final destination at the gate. This is what resulted in them losing my carry on luggage for 4 days.

  17. Another brick in my wall against using AA.

    The bulk of my carryon is items which either can not or should not be in the hold. Done with cheap butt regional crap.

  18. What if you don’t have a pen on you. I will need to get a magic marker or print labels.

  19. I am surprised we haven’t see a push to have a machine near the BP scanner on these small flights that prints a different-colored bag tag. Basically scan your boarding pass and then the GA presses 0/1/2 for # of gate checked bag tags to print and they get slapped right on to your bag and tracked more systematically. Realize this marginally slows down boarding. You could even put a self serve computer in the gate area or something. Given it only impacts very small planes I don’t think this would create too much thrash.

  20. @ GUW may I please valet tag your luggage and retire when you’re banned from FlyerTalk? Could be a very early retirement, and that can’t come a day too soon at this point.

    To permanently ban your bum, “opportunities” are sought. insinuation and character defamation a tool. Please, give us something when anything “gives us something” to declare The Posting Legend worthy of going direct to permanently banned status. *Or should I say EX-posting status?* How you made it the last 80,000 or 90,000 posts on FT without suspension is a miracle.

    You, GUWonder, are hereby declared the case for ignoring the letter of the rules while invoking the spirit and intent of wanting you permanently gone by any means. Here are your walking papers based on semantics. *Karma, baby.*

    Is a Do a conference or symposium, and how does a Do differ from a Do called a Do by the Mods until we could use it against you? Is a Do a secret or not? Maybe you can be Cholula’s hot date at a Do? *It’s our little secret that others were and are invited.* He didn’t care for you either, but he did love delivering hot sauce. God rest his merry soul. And may the Mod Gods permanently rest GUWonder’s posting legend soul on semantics.

  21. Years ago, probably in the 80s, I had an Eagle pilot tell me that it would be cheaper for the airline to bump passengers rather than luggage for weight and balance reasons. He told me that even then, it sometimes cost hundreds of dollars to transport the luggage to the customer, especially in the smaller towns

  22. Yea it seems AA should implement technology like Delta does for valet bags but of course that’s too much to expect.

  23. Not a word of this from the outstation GA on the 24th. Interested to see on the 27th at a hub.

  24. Last summer when I landed, AA said all bags including gate check would go to baggage claim. Then they said they were keeping the bags on the plane overnight due to weather.

    Eventually they stacked the bags in a random storage room. Thankfully I had an AirTag in the bag. They kept insisting the bag never left my destination because they don’t always scan them.

  25. Gate check all the bags

    There was some story about taking carry on bags for small jets due to balance?

  26. I have to chuckle at this new requirement. I ask for my valet tag from the gate agent a bit before boarding specifically explaining “so I may complete the back of the tag.” Many gate agents refuse saying they are required to put it on my bag. Others just give me a weird look and eventually hand me a tag. I fill it out with my name and AA number plus destination airport code (remember when regional jets would make more than on stop on US Airways? Ie: BOS-BUF-ROC).

    Hope they issue them before boarding now, otherwise if they hand them out during boarding and they must be completed before goin down the to the plane, that’s going to hurt making D0.

  27. I’ve always kept a large sheet with my name address and contact info inside my travel bags as well as on the handle..

  28. United has recently started banning pax baggage on the CRJ 900 under “they don’t fit” excuse. strange some how pilots and other flight crew bags fit. Me thinks it’s more about quickly closing the door. Well time board and hope there aren’t too many non Rev union pilots to bump my upgrade

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