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VIRGIN AUSTRALIA: You can track your own luggage through a smartphone app

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA: You can track your own luggage through a smartphone app

Virgin has introduced an app that currently allows passengers traveling between Sydney and Brisbane to track their bags, according to the Australian edition of The Guardian. The ability to track your bags is in the test phase currently but is planned to expand to Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, and Sydney by mid-2023. Regional destinations will follow.

Priority tagged bag on Virgin Australia Sydney luggage carosel
My bag arrives back in Sydney with its Virgin Australia priority tag and AirTags inside.

How to use

If you are on one of the routes covered, then you will need Virgin Australia’s phone app. You will get push notifications (if enabled) updating you on the progress of your luggage from check-in to arrival. That’s just the start. Virgin has a number of enhancements planned to be rolled out over time.

This will make Virgin Australia the first airline to offer such a luggage tracking service in Australia. Yah boo sucks Qantas!

Why luggage tracking?

The press has been full of the luggage mishaps of airlines, airports, and passengers all over the world post-COVID travel bans being lifted. Overall, worldwide, the reporting of mishandled luggage increased by 24% in 2021. Mind you that was mainly due to a lack of human capacity by airlines and airports, not some technical issues. If you don’t have enough baggage handlers, then your luggage gets left behind! Same with lack of security staff – eventually some people are going to be late for their flight.

All of that led to people investing in their own tech to track bags – Apple Airtags and Tile trackers. The ability of passengers to monitor their own luggage didn’t go down well with some Airlines. Notably, Lufthansa got itself into a world of pain by attempting to ban the devices. Their concern was the combustibility of the tiny lithium batteries that power the signals that devices can track. They withdrew the ban after the science tended to disprove their fear, and passenger reaction overwhelmingly rejected the move.

QF1 First Class luggage tags
That time I flew on QF1 in First Class.

Qantas luggage handling

Qantas also got itself into a bit of bother over luggage loss and delays, receiving a pillorying by passengers across social and traditional media. While Qantas handled it really badly – remember CEO Alan Joyce’s jibe about passengers not being ‘match fit’ and causing all the delays? The opprobrium Qantas received was possibly undeserved, its luggage delay rates being no worse than many airlines internationally. Qantas has recently returned to the normal rate of five mishandled bags per thousand that was current prior to COVID. That contrasts with a rate of 12 bags per thousand recorded in 2022.

Virgin Australia Business Class seats
Virgin Business Class

2PAXfly Takeout

This is a good response by Virgin Australia to head off a perceived problem prior to its rumored IPO listing later this year. It certainly makes Qantas look like the technical Neanderthal it currently is.

If Qantas invested as much in improving its tech as it does in calculating the bonuses of its executive staff, we would all be better off. Qantas doesn’t just need to overhaul most of its premium lounges, it also needs a complete reinvention of its web, app, and other technological offerings. Not only is its online booking system so backward, that it often doesn’t seem to operate at all, but it also works at a pace that makes the average tortoise look like Hussain Bolt!

Time to step up on the technology Qantas!

Good call, Virgin.

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