Delta First Airline to Launch Baggage-Tracking App

The app lets travelers follow bags start to end through a map.

— -- On Tuesday, Delta Airlines will become the first major airline to allow fliers to track their checked bags with a smartphone app.

The airline hopes the new system will ease the stress of flying with checked baggage for its passengers -- and reduce its percentage of lost, unclaimed items.

"We mishandle less than two bags for every 1,000," said Bill Lentsch, senior vice president of airport customer service and airline operations.

"This technology here is going to drop that number by 10 to 20 percent," he said. "It's already starting to lower our mishandled baggage rate."

Retailers and shippers have used similar systems for years, but Delta will be the first to provide customers with the option to stay informed about the whereabouts of their bags through an app with push notifications.

"We believe this is a game-changer and we believe this will drive the industry into the next level of performance," Lentsch said.

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With the airline's new $50 million technology, travelers will be able to keep an eye on their luggage, from the moment they check their bags to the minute the bags arrive at their destination, via a map.

The new tracking system uses RFID, or radio frequency identification, and includes a chip that's embedded into luggage tags. Each chip contains a traveler's information.

Baggage handlers will no longer have to scan each bag's bar code, according to Delta. Scanners on the sides of each baggage belt read each tag's chip and indicate whether luggage is being loaded onto the correct plane.

"The chip holds on it enough data that will allow us to immediately identify who that belongs to and where that bag needs to go," Lentsch said. "For us, this is very important to be able to deliver this kind of customer service. We believe it will really de-stress the travel experience."