Next in passenger self-service: DIY lost luggage recovery

Self-service has been progressing rapidly in the airline industry in the past decade, providing passengers with more control, choice, and efficiency. Airlines such as KLM and Air Canada even let passengers print their own baggage tags, attach it to their baggage and place their bags on the conveyor belt at the drop-off area. Lufthansa lets passengers board independently. A scanner reads the bar code on the boarding pass or cellphone and flaps on the gates open (like in the subway) as each passenger is cleared by the airline computer. 

Next in line is self-service baggage recovery. Announced mid-2009 by SITA, two kiosks are now up and running at Copenhagen Airport in a test by Star Alliance to improve service to customers whose bags didn’t arrive with them. Now when bags are lost, the passenger has to spend considerable time filling out forms and making arrangements with the airline for the return of the missing cases. SAS and six other Star Alliance airlines (bmi, LOT, TAP, Blue1, Adria Airways, and Thai) are participating in the project. The kiosks will be tested for three months after which a decision will be made whether to expand the kiosk programme to other airports. In August 2009, ground services provider Swissport in partnership with SkyAssist introduced a similar ‘Lost & Found self-service kiosk’ at Geneva Airport. 

How it works: Traveller scan-in their boarding pass with their flight’s details, describe the missing item on a touchscreen and enter their contact details for the item’s delivery. Once they have entered the information required, the traveller will receive a printout from the machine giving the airline’s contact details together with a status report on whether the item has already been found and/or when the customer can expect to receive it. A claims ID number allows the passenger to remain informed of the status of their baggage, either online or through a call centre. 

According to Swissport, initial experience suggests that this new form of lost-baggage reporting has been well received by the travelers using it, not least because they feel they are contributing directly and actively to the baggage tracing process, rather than dealing with the busy phone lines of the airline or the airport concerned.

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