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Improving Baggage Tracking, Security and Customer Services with Rfid in the Airline Industry

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Abstract: Radio frequency identification (RFID) has been identified as one of the ten

greatest contributory technologies of the 21st Century. This technology has found a rapidly

growing market, and an increasing variety of enterprises are employing RFID to improve

the efficiency of their operations and to gain competitive advantage. In the aviation

industry, major airports/airlines have been looking for the opportunity to adopt RFID in

the area of baggage handling for a long time. Many pilot tests have been done at numerous

U.S., European, and Hong Kong airports. RFID tags were found to be far more accurate

than bar codes, and their performance was also measured to be well above that of bar

codes. This paper presents the state of RFID adoption planning, architecture and

implementation at a major airline, with a special focus on improved services due to

improved baggage handling, on increased airport/airline security and on frequent flier

program services. This is accomplished by integrating RFID technology together with

networking and database technologies.

Keywords: Radio Frequency Identification; RFID; baggage handling/tracking; airline

industry; customer-service

1 Introduction

Developments in logistics have been changing the world faster than ever [1].

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is an emerging technology that is

increasingly being used in business and industry. RFID systems have three main

components as shown in Figure 1.

* The tag: RFID tags are chips embedded in items which store and transmit

information about these items. Most RFID tags store data that identifies a

specific item.

D. Mishra et al. Improving Baggage Tracking, Security and Customer Services with RFID in the Airline Industry

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* The reader: RFID readers are radio frequency transmitters and receivers that

communicates with the tags. Readers, using an attached antenna, receive data

from the tag and then pass it to a computer system for processing.

* The computer system: The computer system receives the data from the RFID

reader through a cable or wireless connection for storage, interpretation and


Figure 1

A Simplified View of an RFID system

Owing to its "MOST" (mobility, organizational, systems and technologies)

characteristics, RFID has received considerable attention and is considered to be

the next wave of the IT revolution [2]. RFID can allow any tagged item to be

mobile and intelligent and to communicate with an organization's overall

information infrastructure [3]. The main applications of RFID are in aviation,

retailing, the food industry, hospitals, libraries, animal detection, building

management, waste management, museums, etc.

The global business environment is changing very quickly [4]. The new, global

economy is the economy of knowledge and ideas, where innovative ideas and



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