Smart Takes

Avoid check-in queues; print baggage tags at home

Posting in Design

Printed e-mail tickets are nothing new - but what about printing off your luggage tags?

Printed e-mail tickets are nothing new - but what about printing off your luggage tags?

The system to catch a plane for your next trip used to be simply thus: book a ticket over the phone, receive it in the post. Then, the Internet became firmly entrenched in households across the West, so tickets became available online -- as well as search engines and last-minute options that were once reserved for Teletext users.

Suddenly, tickets were shifted into digital formats. In a bid to cut printing costs, if the passenger failed to print their own tickets, it is now commonplace to expect a charge. Furthermore, there is desk check-ins, self check-in kiosks, or you can do it online, beforehand. Don't forget to submit your passport details 48 hours before the flight.

Now, catching a flight isn't necessarily as simple as it used to be. What if we added another element to the mix -- by asking passengers to print out their own luggage tags too?

Unisys Corporation announced yesterday that it has finished the implementation of such a home-printed bag tag scheme at Billund Airport in Denmark.

The aim is to 'streamline' the check-in process for international air travelers, and the project already includes an Internet check-in application and local check-in assistant system. In order to design the luggage tag that home printers could cope with, Unisys spent three months with the airport for its development and design.

Anders Nielsen, vice president of development for Billund Airport said:

"It's all about convenience and saving time. When passengers print out both their boarding passes and baggage tags at home, they can avoid waiting in queues at the airport.

We have a dedicated check-in counter for passengers who have printed their boarding passes and bag tags, and all they have to do is present their boarding passes and drop off their pre-tagged luggage."

I would add 'cutting costs' to the mix. The investment required to create such luggage tags is short-term, whereas in the future, if the scheme proves successful, it will no doubt shift the cost of printing to the consumers -- in the same manner as e-tickets.

During the online check-in process, passengers are asked if they have any bags to check-in, and whether they wish to print the tags themselves. Up to nine bag tags can be printed, and the numbers are automatically added to the printable boarding pass.

Once the bag tag is printed, it has to be folded into a plastic "bag tag holder" provided at the airport. The passenger then drops their luggage off in the normal fashion.

The scheme is part of the Fast Travel Initiative.

More than 200 airlines and 100 airports around the world use Unisys solutions, including the Los Angeles World Airports, the Beijing Capital International Airport, the Delhi International Airport and Brussels Airport.

Image credit: C.Osborne

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure