Over the weekend, Madrid-based airline Iberia announced a new service that allows passengers to print out their luggage tags at home, attach the tags themselves, and drop the bags at an express counter at the airport. The time-saving procedure has supposedly been tested at five airports throughout Spain – with success – though there are a few concerns that pop up in my head when I read about this...
For starters, when it comes to proper handling of our checked bags, do we really trust ourselves? Most seasoned travelers are used to simply handing over the bag at check-in, and placing our trust in the capable hands of the ticketing agents. It is they who weigh the bag, they who confirm its size requirements, they who drop it on the conveyor belt and send it on its way. We don't worry about whether or not our bag will make it to the final destination (at least, most of the time we don't) because we trust the people whose job it is to ensure it gets there. Once the responsibility transfers to us, will we be as calm and confident with ourselves?
Secondly, what are the logistics of MyBagTag anyway? Iberia claims there is an "express bag-drop counter" where pre-tagged luggage can be deposited upon arrival at the airport. But who is controlling the volume of bags being dropped off? I certainly like the idea of skipping check-in lines and making my way leisurely over to security. But is the bag in good hands? What if the counter gets overwhelmed? What if they can't get to our bag in time? Will they really be able to sort through all the luggage (and their respective home-printed tags) in time before take-off?
And finally, how reliable is the barcode-reading system? According to Iberia, the tags proved to be 100 percent readable (regardless of the printer, paper, or ink color). But how much do they allow for human error? Passengers are instructed to weigh their own bags at home, download and print out the baggage tag, fold the sheet into a square, and insert into a clear plastic tag slip. But what if something goes amiss with the barcode after the bag's been dropped off? Will they have to re-route it back to the check-in desk so it can be tagged properly? Will passengers be notified of the mix-up?
For now, MyBagTag is only available on domestic flights within Spain, though the airline hopes to expand the service to all European flights, and, eventually, all interntational flights as well.
Is this just paranoid traveler syndrome, or are these concerns justified? Would you trust yourself to tag your own luggage? Let us know in the comments below!