Alaska Airlines just launched the first electronic bag tag program in the U.S. Using a new electronic device along with the Alaska Airlines mobile app, travelers can produce their own luggage tags before they even get to the airport.
“The last thing our guests want to do is stand in line,” Alaska Airlines senior vice president of merchandising Charu Jain said in a statement. “With the addition of the Alaska Airlines electronic bag tag our guests can complete almost all of their check-in tasks — from the comfort of their home, at work or on the way to catching their flight.”
The electronic bag tag made Popular Science‘s “Best of What’s New” list this year, which recognizes products or technology that show a significant step forward in their categories.
Who Doesn’t Want To Save Time At Check-in?
The major benefit of this new program is time savings. The airline estimates that those who use electronic bag tags will save 40 percent of the time usually spent in pre-security lines.
The device is practically indestructible — Alaska’s tests included running it over with a truck! In addition, the device requires no charging and no batteries. That’s a first, right?
How Do They Work?
The 3×5-inch devices are programmed using Alaska’s mobile app. They are updated with the passenger’s flight information during check-in.
If you are eligible for the electronic bag tag (more on that below), you can use it, providing you meet the following requirements:
- Your cell phone has Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth 4.0 (this is true for the iPhone 6 or later or the Samsung A51 or later)
- You are using the Alaska mobile app for check-in
- The reservation is for only you, and you have just one bag to check
Who Gets Them (To Start)
This week, 2,500 members of the Alaska Mileage Plan get their electronic bag tag. These travelers were chosen because they have traveled in the last 12 months, checked at least one bag, and were among the first to sign up for the program.
Electronic bag tags will be available for the general public to purchase in early 2023. If you want to know when they become available for purchase, join the notification list.
Alaska Airlines Is Working Out The Kinks
During this initial launch, Alaska Airlines is figuring out how to make these tags work when a baggage fee is involved. They are also looking to cover situations where travelers have more than one bag or there are multiple travelers on the same reservation.
Can I Still Use Paper Tags?
Sure. For now, only select flyers can access electronic bag tags. The airline has yet to announce any requirement to purchase one when they become more widely available.
There’s Always A Charge — How Much?
The devices needed for this perk aren’t cheap — each costs about $70. If you have several bags, you’ll need multiple devices. However, frequent flyers may find that the time-saving benefit outweighs the cost.
Questions? Contact Alaska Airlines.
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