Airline industry association IATA has partnered with lost property recovery service HomingPIN in an effort to reduce the millions of pounds that mislaid baggage costs the industry every year.
HomingPIN uses secure luggage tags which have a unique code linked to the owners' contact details. Working with air transport industry specialists SITA, the system has been integrated into WorldTracer, operated by 2,200 airports globally, enabling airlines to enter the code to alert passengers to their bags' whereabouts.
HomingPIN MD Andrew Hopwood explained: "Without any information to identify a bag's owner, it can take up to six days for airlines to return luggage as they need to match a mislaid bag report with the bag's description, such as size and colour.
"This delay, along with lack of information as to the bag's whereabouts, is one of the largest sources of airline complaints, often resulting in compensation. It can also ruin a holiday or business trip, impacting the airline's relationship with its customers and damaging its reputation in the process.
"By using HomingPIN, travellers will get their luggage back far more quickly, saving considerable time and hassle, as well as cost to the airline."
According to SITA's Baggage Report 2013, the cost to the industry of mislaid baggage last year was $2.09 billion/£1.23 billion. Delayed bags accounted for 81% of total mishandled bags.
HomingPIN chairman Martin Banbury said: "We are currently in discussions with various airlines interested in using HomingPIN on all their customers' baggage as they recognise the sizeable benefits of combating this perennial problem."
Andrew Price, head of Airport Operations at IATA, added: "Though airlines have invested significantly in improving baggage handling operations, 21.8 million pieces of luggage were still mishandled last year, largely when transferring bags between planes. We are therefore supporting HomingPIN's approach which will significantly improve communication with the passenger and reduce the time waiting for their bag to reach them."