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What Is a Bag Tag?

A bag tag is a small card or label attached to luggage, providing essential information to ensure your belongings reach the same destination as you. It's your suitcase's ID, bearing your name, flight details, and a unique barcode for tracking. Ever wonder how your bags embark on their own journey? Join us as we explore the voyage behind the scenes.
C. Mitchell
C. Mitchell

A bag tag is any sort of identification affixed to luggage. There are two main types of bag tags. The first is affixed by owners individually, as a means of distinguishing their pieces and providing return information in case of loss. More temporary tags, usually issued by commercial airlines, shipping companies, or train operators, contain information about where a bag is heading. The latter type of tags are used almost exclusively for checked luggage — that is, luggage that owners leave in the custody of a travel operator at the start of a journey, then pick up at the destination upon arrival.

Personal baggage tags run the gamut from the purely informational to the truly creative. The most basic bag tag is usually little more than a durable paper or laminated card that contains the owner’s name, address, and telephone contact information. More sophisticated tags can include ornate covers, decorative fonts, and graphics or icons. Groups traveling together often require members to use uniform luggage tags such that all group members’ baggage can be easily identified in a crowd. Tags are usually attached to bag handles with cording of some variety.

A bag tag identifies the owner of luggage.
A bag tag identifies the owner of luggage.

A bag tag can be homemade or purchased from a number of different travel stores, luggage retailers, and novelty shops. They must usually be durable enough to withstand moderate travel. The tag is simply a precaution in case of loss for many people. For others, though, it is a personal statement, and is a way to keep an eye on a bag and easily distinguish it from others that may look similar.

If bags are checked, they are tagged with the passenger's flight information so the bags can be transferred if the passenger has a connecting flight.
If bags are checked, they are tagged with the passenger's flight information so the bags can be transferred if the passenger has a connecting flight.

More official luggage tickets serve an entirely different purpose. Commercial travel operators often issue tags at baggage checks as a way of ensuring that all surrendered luggage is properly routed. This kind of bag tag is often much more utilitarian, and generally must be removed by the owner once the bag arrives at its final destination.

Commercial bag tag procedures usually depend on computer technology. A baggage operator must tell a computer where a suitcase is supposed to go, and the computer will then spit out a personalized bag tag. This tag is usually peppered with acronyms, symbols, and bar codes. The passenger’s name and flight number are usually printed, but the focus is on the destination and any connections in between. Official tags are either securely fastened to the bag’s handles, or else affixed to one of the sides with adhesive.

Once a bag with an official routing tag enters the checked baggage system, it can be scanned and tracked throughout its journey. This allows travel personnel to help passengers recover lost luggage and can also enable the re-routing of bags diverted midstream. Routing labels do not prominently identify luggage in terms of owner, however. As such, a more personal luggage identifier is usually recommended, as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a bag tag and why is it important when traveling?

A bag tag, also known as a luggage tag, is a small card or label that is attached to your luggage when you check it in for a flight. It contains essential information such as your name, flight details, and a barcode that helps in tracking your bag throughout the journey. Bag tags are crucial for the identification and sorting of luggage by airport systems and personnel, ensuring that your belongings reach the same destination as you do. According to the SITA 2020 Baggage IT Insights report, the use of bag tags has contributed to a significant decrease in mishandled bags over the years.

How do electronic bag tags work and what are their benefits?

Electronic bag tags are digital versions of traditional paper tags, which can be updated with flight information via a smartphone app. They use technologies like RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) and e-ink displays to show your luggage details. The benefits of electronic bag tags include the ability to check in luggage from anywhere, reducing time spent at the airport, and environmental sustainability by cutting down on paper waste. Airlines like Lufthansa have reported that electronic bag tags can potentially speed up the check-in process by up to 20%.

Can I track my luggage with a bag tag?

Traditional bag tags do not offer real-time tracking for passengers, but they do allow airline systems to track and sort luggage. However, some modern bag tags, especially electronic ones, come with built-in tracking capabilities that passengers can access through a smartphone app. These tags use GPS or Bluetooth technology to provide updates on the location of your luggage. For instance, Delta Air Lines introduced RFID bag tags, which increased the accuracy of baggage handling to 99.9%, allowing passengers to track their bags in real-time through the Delta app.

What should I do if my luggage with a bag tag gets lost?

If your luggage with a bag tag gets lost, immediately report it to the airline's baggage claim office or customer service desk. Provide them with your bag tag receipt, which has a unique identifier for your luggage. The airline will then use this information to trace your bag through their tracking system. Most airlines have a compensation policy for delayed or lost baggage, so inquire about the steps you need to take to claim this. The Montreal Convention of 1999 outlines airline liability and compensation rules for lost luggage, which many countries adhere to.

Are there any tips for ensuring my bag tag remains secure throughout my trip?

To ensure your bag tag remains secure, attach it tightly to a sturdy part of your luggage, like the handle, and consider using a plastic tag holder for added protection. Make sure the information on the tag is current and legible. For extra security, you can also add a smart luggage tag with your contact information and tracking capabilities. Additionally, take a photo of your bag and tag before checking in, so you have all the necessary details in case your luggage is misplaced.

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    • A bag tag identifies the owner of luggage.
      By: monticellllo
      A bag tag identifies the owner of luggage.
    • If bags are checked, they are tagged with the passenger's flight information so the bags can be transferred if the passenger has a connecting flight.
      By: varandah
      If bags are checked, they are tagged with the passenger's flight information so the bags can be transferred if the passenger has a connecting flight.