Lost luggage disrupts the lives of thousands of expats and business travellers and costs airlines billions of pounds to retrieve and reunite suitcases and bags with their owners.
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Now, a new system that codes baggage labels with the owner’s contact details is ready to resolve the problem.
More than 2,200 major international airports are joining the HomingPIN system that alerts passengers where in the world their baggage may be.
Sending lost baggage back to frustrated passengers costs the airline industry around £1.25 billion a year, according to industry experts SITA.
The painful process involves matching a misdirected bag with a passenger and can take at least six days to process.
The new system involves downloading an encoded luggage label from the internet for attaching to baggage.
The code contains a PIN number that the airline can access online to contact passengers for making arrangements to send them their missing baggage.
When a mishandled bag is located, the PIN is used to send a text or email to the passenger to find out where they want their luggage sent to.
The problem is a huge one for the airline industry, with airlines reckoning more than 21 million pieces of luggage ended up in a different destination from their owners every year.
HomingPIN aims to speed up the process and reunite passengers with their lost luggage more quickly.
“Trying to match a misdirected bag with an owner who can be thousands of miles away can take days,” said HomingPIN managing director Andrew Hopwood.
“The airline has to try to find out the size, colour and type of bag to arrange sending it back to a passenger.”
Hopwood explained that delays in finding lost luggage is one of the major passenger complaints received by airlines and costs them time and money to move the baggage between airports and compensation to the customer.
“Losing bags can ruin a holiday or business trip, upset the airline’s relationship with customers and gain it a bad reputation. HomingPIN won’t stop luggage getting lost, but will speed up the process of reuniting passengers with their possessions.”
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents 240 airlines, has already set up a partnership with HomingPIN.
“We hope the system will radically improve the problems airlines have with misdirected baggage. Tests of the system have worked well and we are recommending that our members take the new process on board,” said a spokesman.
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