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.
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.