Qantas’ Q-Tag : The Luggage Tag Of The Future

Luggage tags for checked baggage remained largely unchanged from the time paper tags with the perforated “separable coupon ticket” was patented by John Michael Lyons of the 5th of June 1882 in New Jersey until the introduction of the current thermal printed airline luggage labels in the mid-1990s.

 

Now as airline travel continues to evolve as a paperless environment, Qantas has released a revolutionary new luggage tag … the Q-Tag.

 

The Qantas Q-Tag is a permanent luggage tag that passengers keep on their bags, flight after flight after flight. The Qantas Q-Tag is registered by passengers to their frequent flyer information, or passenger information, this information is then linked an embedded RFID chip within the Q-Tag. With the introduction of the Qantas Q-Tag passengers no longer need to see a customer service agent for a luggage tag, or affix a thermal printed luggage tag, to check their bags in.

 

To use the Q-Tag, Qantas passengers need to either scan their ‘elite level’ frequent flyer card, or their mobile phone boarding pass (which works for non-elite frequent flyers and frequent flyers). Once a passenger’s card, or mobile boarding pass, is scanned, the information is linked to the Q-Tag … and the bag is off.

 

Presently there are some drawbacks to the Q-Tag … the first one being that the Q-Tag only presently works for Qantas domestic flights, and only at certain airports, as the new technology is installed throughout Qantas’ domestic network.  The second issue is this … should there be a problem with the information properly being transferred from check-in to the Q-Tag RFID chip; there is nothing on the bag tag physically indicating where it is headed.

 

The future is here … lets see how long until other airlines offer paperless baggage tags and can integrate them into widespread use.

 

I received my Q-Tag about two weeks ago, one of the only Q-Tags Qantas has released outside of Australia, and I am itching to go try it out and see how it works! Below is a photo of my Q-Tag with its arrival packet.

 

Happy Flying!

 

 

Comments

  1. This sounds like a nifty idea and I like the concept, BUT….

    When this idea gets some traction with the other air carriers, and I am sure it will, my luggage will look like my key ring that has a store membership card for just about every store possible in the western hemisphere.

    I know this is asking a lot, but would it be possible to have one “standard tag” that every airline can access? This would at least keep my bag from being overweight just from the sheer quantity of the tags that are attached to it. That probably wouldn’t work, how would each air carrier promote themselves on a common tag?

    Hopefully the tags can be scanned as they are being placed in the cargo hold of the airplane to see if they match the flight?

    Along with the no printed destination, what happens when the tag is ripped off by a belt loader etc? How secure is the loop, I can’t tell from the photo.

  2. It would be really great if they could get an e-ink screen on the tag with the bag’s final destination. Just as another visual cue to the passenger that their bag is on its way to the right destination. Yes it would complicate things a bit, but e-ink screens only use power when changing the display so one watch battery could last for years.

  3. @Bob Great point. I agree that each airline will want to use the tags to promote their brands but perhaps there could be a compromise and each alliance could publish a tag that is readable by all other alliance members. That way at least 3 tags would cover 51 different airlines (Skyteam + OW + *A).

  4. A number of my Australia-based colleagues have this – and quite like it. Qantas is in a unique position to have relatively little local competition in its domestic market. Despite Virgin’s advances, QF has held on to the lion’s share of the business market there. So, for the average Australian domestic traveler (traveller), the need to have dozens of these won’t be there.

    QF has made it so you can check in at the airport – with bags – and not have to interact with a person – which is great and fast. They offer this mainly at their CityFlyer stations (SYD, MEL, etc), where there are relatively few connecting pax (ie: they service almost every station from SYD and MEL).

    A more complex air network like the US would be much more difficult to implement.

  5. If you are an elite-level flier interacting with a human being shouldn’t be a problem (dedicated lines), right?

    Any type of a “universal tag” opens a can of worms (privacy, physical separation from the bag, computer glitches – let’s say what happens if the computer spits out my yesterday’s flight, instead of my today’s itinerary…you know computers are programmed by often seriously flawed human beings…) Besides, the paper “tape” tag attached to a bag is by no means the only tag anymore: there are all kinds of barcoded and RFID stickers that are already attached to checked luggage, which seems to work great (again, within the flawed capacity of human beings to do their jobs…)

    Unless human beings are compleatly eliminated from the baggage sorting loop, this might be a solution with no clear problem in sight.

  6. I use the Q-Tag and generally excellent – my experience/info

    + Very fast to use and drop bags now.
    + No queuing for agents or terminals even to check in.
    + Also no unsightly glue on your bag and little stickers everywhere
    + No need to remove the paper after each one
    + tag can be traded between anyone – all that is stored in the tag is a number – it doesn’t store anything else. The back office keeps the record link between your details and the bag/tag number so privacy is fine – an external reader will only show the tag number. That tag can be given/lent to other family members for their travel (not the same flight as your bag of course!)
    +if they break off – same as the paper ones being torn off, you are in the same boat – just identify your bag with details as you would normally e.g. leave a name tag on or the like.

    – still if complications arise or have oversize bags then no good. If any of your bags are say a car seat/pram etc then the tag is not for you – only good for standard bags.
    – unsure as to what happens when you are over your weight allowance and how much discretion is given my the system – expect nil, whereas an agent may let it pass!
    – mix of q-tags and paper tags is handled by the system but you feel its not going to cope with the mix when checking in
    – my main concern is the previous frequent flyer tagging of bags “priority” or “business” depending on your class/status to get them out sooner. Unclear that this actually works in the tag system – we have been assured that it does prioritize however still yet to be reliably proven.

  7. As part of a elite group of Frequent flyers for Qantas I can tell you these Qtags are one of the biggest flops this company has ever invested.

  8. The RFID chip technology, including what Qantas uses which is called Q-tags are a real problem with the baggage areas. What Qantas has not told people is that the technology is not new, in fact Las Vegas and San Antonio trialed it first years ago and they had no choice but to scrap it due to too many ongoing problems. Here’s the low down on this so called fantastic system. The Q-tags that Qantas uses are a disc which has absolutely no info written on it. No name, no destination, no flight details. NOTHING. The only way to find out where the bag is going is to use a hand held scanner which baggage handlers use which reads the tag and comes up on the scanners lcd screen. Great in theory except the scanners in use require a lot of battery power to scan rfid chips, much more than the familiar bar code tags so batteries run low and need to be charged frequently which results in battery being worn out over time. 2nd, there is a lot of frequency distortion due to the amount of frequencies and microwaves floating around the area so the scanner sometimes cannot read the tag, or in a lot of cases, the tag simply stops working and cannot be read. 3rd, there are screens placed around the baggage belt which read the tags so that the flight details come up on the screen and you can scan the bag to the right flight, however, when you have multiple bags on the belt there is a vast amount of flight details coming up on the screen meaning you have no idea which bag is which so you scan every bag hoping to pick the right one. Slows down the work process and therefore has potential to delay flights or in most cases, bags simply miss the flight. 4th, transfer bags connecting onto other flights is the biggest problem and is the cause of 53% of missed or missing bags in the world. When a Q-tag comes along with no details on it unlike the barcodes which do, you have no idea where that bag is going and if the connection is tight, then it just makes it that much harder. Yeah you do have a scanner, IF you can find one that works, IF the q-tag is working and IF the battery in the scanner is charged enough to read it. Working in the baggage area, I see these problems everyday and it’s getting worse. Qantas wont pay to fix or replace scanners and what was once a simple job of reading whats on the tag has now become a lengthy fustrating process that only creates more work rather than lessen it. It might potentially save a few mnutes of time for a passenger checking in but when you get to your destination and you have no bag, then you have to wonder if it is worth it at all. Save yourself some hassle, request a barcoded bag tag instead and then maybe Qantas will wake up and realize it’s a failed technology that simply does not belong in the airline industry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *