April 2011 | Online tracking and tracing of packages shipped via parcel delivery companies such as FedEx and DHL has been possible for years, and has even spread to services like pizza delivery. For example, Domino’s Pizza ‘Pizza Tracker’ lets customers track their pizza from the moment they place the order until it leaves the kichen en route to them. Examples from the airline industry include Yapta, which offers alerts when fares drop for specific flights or hotels, and FlightStats, which notifies passengers on flight delays and cancellations. Says consumer trends agency trendwatching.com: “Tracking and alerting is the new searching, as it saves consumers time, makes it impossible to forget or miss out, and thus ultimately gives them yet another level of control.”
Delta checked bags tracking
In a move to make the baggage process more transparent for customers, Delta Air Lines is now bringing ‘tracking and alerting’ to checked luggage. The airline has just launched a new ‘Track Checked Bags’ service in order to give passengers a sense of confidence that their luggage has made it to the same aircraft. As Delta scans the bag tags during each part of the journey, passengers can track their baggage in real-time as it makes its way through the Delta system. Available for domestic flights, Delta passengers can go online – for example via their smartphone – to track their checked baggage with the bag tag number that they received at the time of baggage check-in.
Furthermore, as Delta has equipped all its 549 mainline domestic aircraft with GoGo’s in-flight Internet – and is currently installing the service on 223 Delta Connection jets as well – passengers may even check up in the air whether their bag has made it on their flight.
Members of the Delta SkyMiles frequent flyer program can also access their personal profile on Delta.com to indicate they would like to receive alerts about the status of their checked bags. They then pro-actively will receive a SMS or email if their bags don’t travel with them. Says one frequent flyer on Flyertalk: “Was on a flight this past week, JFK – CLT. As I landed, I received a text message and voice mail that my bag had not made it onto the plane. I was able to go directly to the baggage claim office without having to wait for all the baggage to come out of the carousel. Although I was annoyed my bag did not make the flight, I was glad to get the process moving and avoided any lines at the baggage claim office.”
Other members of the Flyertalk community also suggest that Delta should make the ‘checked luggage tracking’ service available via its iPhone/Blackberry/Android apps as well, as the airline already has the raw data available.
Alaska Air ups checked baggage service guarantee to 20 minutes
Next in passenger self-service: DIY lost luggage recovery
Traveler’s cell phones signal waiting times at airport security in real-time
Lufthansa MySkyStatus lets passengers auto-tweet their flight position