Virgin Australia is today rolling out its app-based baggage tracking system “across more than two thirds of its domestic network,” the airline says, following a successful pilot of the program in May 2023,
Passengers on almost 70% of the airline’s domestic flights will be able to track the status of their checked baggage via the Virgin Australia app “on select flights” departing from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart and Launceston.
Those stand alongside other key regional destinations including Newcastle, Ballina Byron, the Sunshine Coast and Hamilton Island, Townsville, Rockhampton and Mackay.
And while WA is not on the map right now, the airline promises “baggage tracking will be available on select flights departing Perth soon.”
Many international airlines – including Emirates, Swiss, Delta, United, Qatar Airways and most recently Air New Zealand – offer bag tracking to varying degrees, but Virgin is the first Australian carrier to make this move.
Push notifications via the Virgin Australia app will alert flyers once their luggage has been successfully checked in for your flight – and, where relevant, transferred to an international partner airline – and also confirm the bag is ready for collection, and at which baggage carousel.
However, unlike the popular Apple AirTags which deliver (mostly) accurate geo-positioning of a bag, Virgin’s offering will not provide live ‘real-time’ tracking, relying instead on physical scanning of the bags at each airport.
But the in-app bag isn’t just about giving travellers a dose of the feel-goods: Virgin sees it as key to having more passengers check their bags rather than carry them onto the plane.
“We know the potential of lost baggage is a concern for travellers globally and anticipate today’s announcement will give many guests that extra level of comfort knowing where their bag is at every step of the journey,” says Paul Jones, Virgin Australia Group Chief Customer and Digital Officer, with Virgin “anticipating a rise in guests checking in baggage as a result of the new tracking tool.”
Qantas in-app bag tracking
Qantas says it won’t be far behind in letting travellers keep track of their luggage and know where their checked bags are at every stage of the flight.
Earlier this year the airline confirmed baggage tracking would be added to the Qantas app “towards the end of 2023.”
Ironically, Qantas was initially well ahead of the curve on this, launching its RFID-enabled Q Bag Tags in 2010 as part of a streamlined domestic Next Generation Check-in initiative.
Each of the Q Bag Tags – coloured coded to a frequent flyer’s status – contains an RFID chip which synchronises the traveller’s flight details with their baggage, and then lets the bag be tracked by Qantas using RFID scanners and a ‘baggage reconciliation system’.
However, there’s currently no way for the traveller to access that system and receive assurance that their bags have been loaded onto the plane or are headed for the luggage belt.
Baggage tracking apps and smart tags such as the Apple AirTag have become an increasingly common part of the modern traveller’s arsenal, with lost luggage woes fuelling the desire to keep a closer eye on the whereabouts of your precious belongings.