British Airways has announced it will be launching an electronic luggage tag that houses support for NFC next year. The product will be trialled over the next few months.
Using the British Airways mobile app, passengers will be able to hold their NFC phone to the reusable luggage tag to automatically update its e-ink display with a tracking barcode, flight details and an easy-to-see view of the bag's destination. Customers can then have their electronic tag scanned at the bag drop, going straight through security.
The luggage tag's barcode can be read by existing airport equipment, the low energy E-Paper display only requires power when it is re-written, and the process of printing out and attaching bar coded paper stickers at the check-in desk is eliminated.
British Airways told NFC World: "The trials are happening this summer ahead of our launch next year. You need an NFC device to be able to use the service, but the final version at launch will be compatible with all phones because it will include Bluetooth capability."
According to the airline, development of the personalised electronic bag tag is part of a wider strategy to improve the customer experience through the airport, making it quicker, smoother and easier.
Trials have also taken place on self-service bag drops, automated boarding gates, porter services, auto check-in, and meet and greet hosts.
The electronic luggage tags have been specially developed by British Airways in partnership with information display systems manufacturer Densitron and product design consultancy Designworks. Heathrow Airport is providing help with the trials.
The partners are reluctant to detail exactly how the tags function at this point but it seems likely they work in a similar way to this passive NFC shelf-edge label.
Frank van der Post, British Airways's managing director of brands and customer experience, said: "This is a fantastically simple yet smart device that gives each customer the choice to have their own personalised electronic baggage tag that changes with the swipe of a smartphone — every time they fly.
"As the saying goes, 'good things come in small packages', and this innovative device is no exception. Along with other initiatives we are investing in, we believe it has the potential to revolutionise the way our customers check in and pass through every airport around the world in the future."