American Airlines made improvements to its baggage tracking infrastructure this week with the launch of a new suite of notifications on its mobile app.
Called Customer Baggage Notification or CBN, the technology alerts travelers through the app when checked baggage arrives early or late to the carousel, effectively giving travelers better, immediate, insight into the location of their belongings.
While that may sound simple, the coordinated notifications are no small feat. American’s app needed to be updated to receive data from internal baggage tracking scanners, while location-based services needed to be added to determine where passengers are in the terminal relative to the bags.
The new notifications are integrated in the latest release of the American Airlines mobile app and were American announced them yesterday.
In launching the technology, American is finally starting to catch up to some of the recent improvements that the industry has seen around luggage tracking. In August, Delta Air Lines wrapped a multi-million dollar effort to better track luggage using RFID technology. In November, the airline integrated its baggage tracking into an app, though the notifications on that platform may not be as robust as American’s.
Among legacy carriers, only United so far hasn’t launched enhanced baggage tracking.
Checked-baggage tracking has improved so dramatically that airlines are starting to compete over it. Delta and Alaska have taken to regularly sparring over checked baggage guarantees, taking turns offering passengers vouchers and incentives if anything gets delayed or lost.
Even so, the systems are still not perfect. Just this week, Delta was fined $200,000 by the Department of Transportation for under-reporting mishandled baggage, artificially boosting its numbers in the DOT’s monthly tabulations.
The good news is that between better tracking and notifications, mishandled baggage numbers are dropping. According to the most recent DOT report, in May, 2.32 out of every 1000 bags were lost by U.S. carriers. That’s down from 2.4 out of 1000 in 2016, an improvement of just over 3 percent year-over-year.