Alaska Airlines rolls out electronic bag tags to cut time spent in check-in lines

Alaska Airlines says bag tags will be available for all guests, starting in 2023

Alaska Airlines said last week that it had become the first U.S. airline to launch an electronic bag tag program, enabling travelers to tag their own luggage using the airline’s mobile app before they reach the airport.   

The airline said its 2,500 Alaska Mileage Plan members would begin receiving an electronic tag. 

Those elite status members included in the program's first wave have traveled within the last year and checked in at least one bag and were among the first to register to use the tags. 

The three-by-five-inch devices are updated with a guest’s flight information through the Alaska Airlines mobile app during the check-in process. 

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Bag tag

Alaska Airlines' electronic bag tag (Alaska Airlines / Fox News)

The tags, Alaska Airlines noted, essentially allow customers to make a beeline to the bag-drop area upon arrival, cutting time spent in airport lobbies by 40%.

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The devices don't require charging or batteries and employees tested their durability by running them over with a truck.

Alaska Airlines plane

Alaska Airlines Embraer ERJ 170-200 LR arrives at Los Angeles international Airport on Oct. 2, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images / Getty Images)

Activation is done by touching the phone used for check-in to the bag tag, which has an antenna that powers and reads the information transmitted from the phone. The e-paper bag tag’s screen will then display the guest’s flight information. 

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The electronic bag tag will be available for purchase to all guests starting in 2023. 

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines luggage and the electronic bag tag (Alaska Airlines / Fox News)

It will work on all Alaska Airlines marketed flights operated by Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air and SkyWest Airlines.  

Software for the device is provided by Dutch company BAGTAG.

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The electronic tags have been listed on Popular Science’s Best of What’s New list of 2022.

"We’ve tested our electronic bag tags on countless flights across the country, including international routes where Alaska Airlines flies, and the devices have performed exactly as they’re meant to," said Charu Jain, senior vice-president of merchandising and innovation for Alaska. "We’ll collect feedback from our first wave of users before the devices become available to purchase to all our guests early next year."