New ‘Numbered Checked Bag Tags’ Are Coming To American Airlines Next Year

America Airlines is redesigning its bag tags, for use when you check luggage. The idea of these new tags is to help avoid lost luggage when you’re connecting between flights. The new tags will be numbered based how much time you have for your connecting flight, and if all goes well will debut early next year.

  • A “one” means a tight connection and tells the airline to load your bags last, so they’re first off.
  • They’ll also number tags for connecting bags two or three.

That’s helpful when everything goes right with your first flight. But if you start with a long connection, and the your first flight is delayed, your bag may not make it even if you do you. That’s because you were initially assigned a “three” so your bags wind up taking the longest.

If you change flights, and don’t have a seat assignment for the new flight, assume your bag won’t make it (by design). So irregular operations, which drives a lot of bags that don’t make it on your flight, still will be a driver of problems.

While oneworld partner Alaska Airlines is rolling out permanent electronic bag tags that customers can affix to bags, American has no plans to do this – or to use RFID technology to track bags – but we can expect a new design for bag tags next year meant to reduce lost bags on connecting itineraries.

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. I’ve noticed that AA is now scheduling a MANY connecting flights with less than an hour between connections. Numbered bag tags won’t make up for cuts in baggage personnel. Buy Apple Air Tags and use them if you want to know where your luggage is on missed connections.

  2. “A “one” means a tight connection and tells the airline to load your bags last, so they’re first off.’

    Sure, I’m sure that will work just as well as the “priority” tags.

    in other words: not at all.

  3. @Bob – haha, you are so right!! More times than not, the “priority” tagged luggage is the LAST to come off. I’ve seen it so many times. I have literally asked the agent not to put the priority tag on my bags!

  4. The comment about bag rerouting isn’t quite current. The reroute message happens as soon as you have a new confirmed flight, whether you have a seat assigned or not, and whether or not you’ve checked in. If you’re on standby, that does require a manual reroute request by a gate agent, though sometimes it will be picked up earlier if the bag is scanned. In any case, during bad weather days, bags aren’t super likely to make it (unfortunately) if you change destination airports. For domestic flights, practice (along with the above) has been to put the bags on the next flight to the destination, regardless of whether you make it or even have a seat/standby. This gives your bag a much higher chance of making it at or before you, at the expense of less likelihood if you reroute. International flights are a bit different, since airlines can’t send bags ahead of the passenger.

  5. +1 on the Priority Bag tag comments. I actually request to NOT have a tag placed on my bag when flying back to MIA. I am convinced the baggage folks behind the wall put priority bags out last out of spite or something, it happens way too consistently to be a mistake.

  6. Isn’t American Airline they the worst airline (at least of the major 3) with mishandled baggage according to DOT data? Aren’t also an airline with no time baggage gets delivered?

    This is lipstick on a pig since the whole operation needs to be redesigned. But then they don’t care about customer experience, and their awful profitability shows it.

  7. So American has more connect flights with Domestic / international and your trying to compare them to Southwest that only flies domestic and does not have the same connections times as AA .

  8. I am a million miler and ConciergeKey and and have traveled on American for business for 15+ years as a Director of Sourcing for a major equipment OEM. I can count on one hand the times bag was lost.

  9. There should be a “0” for people who comment on View From The Wing. That either means they run the bag to the connection or they burn it on the spot.

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