Alaska Airlines has long been known for its innovative baggage policy. Its “self-tag” program, which allows passengers to pre-print their luggage tags during the online check-in process, place the tag into a reusable bag tag holder, and drop the bag at designated baggage drop areas at the airport, has been a resounding success.

As part of a continued effort to offer peace of mind and stress-free travel, Alaska Airlines is now testing an electronic luggage tag, coupled with a smartphone app, to further shorten the check-in process.

Using Vanguard ID Systems’ ViewTag technology, which offers a luggage tag with an electronic paper display and the ability to communicate with a smartphone via Bluetooth, passengers can complete the entire check-in process via their smartphone, much like with the “self-tag” program. The additional benefits of using the ViewTag technology include automatic updates to the reusable tag. The same tag can be used for an outbound flight and return flight, and flight details will change automatically when the tag is paired with the smartphone app.

Here’s how it works:
24 hours prior to departure, passengers can open the smartphone app and check-in for their flight as they are accustomed to doing. With Bluetooth enabled on their smartphone and the luggage tag in proximity, the passenger will indicate on the app that they have a bag to check. The luggage tag will automatically update itself with the correct flight number and destination. Upon arrival at the airport, passengers simply show their ID at the airline counter and drop off their bag!

Future improvements will include the ability for passengers to receive alerts when their luggage is misrouted, with the option to input an address where they would like to have the bag delivered once it is found. No more having to wait in a dimly lit, closet-sided office in the farthest corner of the airport to report a lost bag.

ViewTag is currently being tested by approximately 500 frequent flyers until November 2016, at which time Alaska Airlines will evaluate the results of this testing and determine if they will open the program to more travelers.