Airbus has taken steps to resolve what remains the bane of air travelers’ lives: lost baggage, which it estimates is a $2.6 billion problem annually. Better still, its new Bag2Go program raises the possibility of passengers being able to let their bags travel independently and arrive in a timely way at their final destination. Through a partnership with German baggage maker Rimowa and communications group T-Mobile, the airframer has tapped radio frequency identification technology to create a so-called intelligent suitcase that can be dispatched and tracked from the passenger’s smartphone.
The passenger inputs all the necessary flight data and transmits it to the airline, which generates a bar code and relays this to a display on the suitcase. A separate bar code is assigned for each flight, giving each bag a unique digital identifier that connects it with the passenger so that its path can be managed from check-in to final destination. The bar codes also carry information such as the weight of the bag. Data can be adjusted in the event that a flight is cancelled or the passenger misses a connection.
Airbus unveiled the Bag2Go concept at its Innovation Days earlier this month as one of the first initiatives of the manufacturer’s new innovations group, consisting of 25 employees led by newly appointed chief innovation officer (CIO) Yann Barbaux. The group’s mission is to stimulate and commercially harness product and customer service ideas from Airbus’s 60,000 staff. “Innovation is at the heart of Airbus; it is part of our DNA and a fundamental ingredient in ensuring our long-term growth and profitability,” said Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier, to whom Barbaux reports directly. “I am convinced that our new CIO function will enable us to respond to and anticipate future trends more quickly for the overall benefit of our customers.”
However, it remains unclear when or exactly how Bag2Go will go into operation, with Airbus declining to indicate when the new baggage and the associated smartphone application will reach the market. “The bag is not yet available. We have to take it to maturity before it goes on sale, but the idea is clearly able to generate much interest from consumers. If we opened it for sale now we would be overbooked,” Barbaux told journalists.