Airlines struggle with a variety of survival issues. These include unpredictable fuel costs, reducing CO2 emissions, low-budget competition, new regulations and tight finances. All of these existed before the impact of COVID-19, which severely exacerbated concerns. This catastrophic pandemic hit the airline industry extremely hard, perhaps more than 9/11 and the 2008 global financial crisis put together. 

We believe that when flying through turbulence, it’s critical to focus on the horizon. To combat these challenges, airlines should better their operations and prepare (or restructure) for the new normal. Despite this bumpy air, the airline industry’s response has been nothing short of impressive. Airlines and airports that have taken a data-driven, action-oriented, and digitally supported approach have the best chance to emerge stronger from this crisis.

As the industry rebounds, management teams will protect cash levels, capture revenue as soon as possible, and delay cash-outs as much as they can. We assume that investing in new technologies, such as RFID, will lose priority despite the IATA 753 resolution. The adoption of RFID wasn’t going particularly fast even pre-corona. Why? It is a huge, never-ending expense. So, it’s only natural that RFID adoption will take a seat in the back row as airports and airlines try to get back in the black.

The advantages of RFID over conventional identification systems have been heavily plugged (sometimes shamelessly) at industry events. In June 2019, the IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) unanimously resolved to support the global deployment of Radio Frequency Identification. In our opinion, the industry has been brainwashed by dazzling marketing campaigns and the lobbyism of semiconductors. But despite these efforts, adoption has been slow because of high costs, limited funding and criticisms voiced by early adopters who are now regretting the investments theymade.

RFID was introduced to the aviation industry in 2003 as a technology at the forefront of process improvement. Since then, decision makers have been blindsided by the economics and lack of alternative options, combined with the challenge of ensuring effective implementation cooperation. Airlines and airports both need to be using RFID for it to be effective. Only collaborative efforts provide maximum benefits. Essentially, if you’ve adopted RFID but your partner airlines or airports have not, you’re flying solo.

The cause is clear. The effect is rippling. And the math just doesn’t make sense. RFID costs about five cents or more per bag. Yes, per bag. And they aren’t reusable. So that’s a cost per bag for every single trip. It doesn’t just add up, it multiplies. Then, there are the investments associated with scanning equipment and scaling the system across the entire enterprise. The cost is simply not in line with the bottom line. It’s outrageous.

The alternative? Computer vision and machine learning. This solution has been gaining momentum since 2015. At that time, self-learning systems could visually recognize and classify images at large scale and has since been adopted for passenger biometrics – but not yet baggage identification. That’s where we swoop in.

Picture the endless possibilities of photographing every bag, extracting data and sharing that information with existing systems. We already have a tremendous amount of image-sets generated. Our AI technology doesn’t just optimize baggage handling, tracking and tracing, it helps develop new services, efficiencies and revenue streams (such as better utilization of cargo space, reduced CO2 emissions, new ancillary sales and more). Better yet, it is reasonably priced as a SaaS-service and the data gathered is almost infinitely reusable, unlike RFID.

We envision visual AI being the logical choice for airports and airlines, giving them endless possibilities beyond IATA 753. We’re not trying to say that RFID is evil nor do we wish to critique the industry’s objectives. Instead, we’re helping to show that a one-dimensional RFID approach is a fallacy in thinking. Shouldn’t we instead work towards a tagless future, using existing infrastructure and procedures, that provides profits instead of costs? It is unfortunate that adding new hardware is the first intuition of the industry – it illustrates the mindset of knee-jerk reaction instead of forward-thinking action. Alternatively, the BagsID Network offers efficiency, effectiveness and immediacy in our innovation, and it is easily accessible, too.

A picture says more than a thousand words at a fraction of the cost. Our solution not only complies with IATA standards and international conventions but offers a whole lot more. This is the true sky-is-the-limit solution the industry has been looking for.

Get the picture? Then it’s time for BagsID. For more information, contact us today.