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Where's my Suitcase?: Will there be a transformation in luggage handling?

September 26, 2019

Not long ago, I came across an article by PhocusWire. The author questioned whether or not consumer demand for convenience will transform the baggage experience.

If you have been in the travel industry for a while, you have probably seen a raft of changes: The introduction of low-cost carriers, the sharing-economy, personalization, predictive analytics, the ancillary services model…The list is endless.

Will baggage be the next area for a revolution?

According to the article “airlines in the United States collected $4.6 billion in checked baggage fees in 2017.” This comes as no surprise taking into account that since the beginning of the economic downturn of 2008, airlines and other industry players started to become more creative with their pricing in order to secure their bottom line results.

A report by Idea Works showed that ancillary services increased from $32.5 billion US dollars in 2011 to $82.2 billion in 2017. Although this amount is not purely based on checked luggage, there is no doubt that it plays an important role.

Low-cost carriers opened the can and legacy actors followed by creating a more complex pricing structure designed to compete with the new players. Premium classes have not been affected, but the lowest economy fares have seen a service that was free not that long ago, now comes with a fee.

Nowadays, airlines are charging for checked baggage, but what are they doing to improve the experience? It seems not much has been done to enhance this service. In fact, in some cases, travelers need to label their own suitcases and place them onto belts: The so-called self-service kiosks.

The article also addressed lost luggage. This has not improved either, and the consequences of a suitcase not arriving on time can ruin important business trips.

I remember a client that was traveling to China to receive an award at a glittering gala ceremony. Her luggage got lost. Being a tall person, finding a replacement outfit for the event was not easy. Thankfully, she managed to find a tailor that was able to deliver an outfit in under 24 hours, but this was a real coup.

With all of this in mind, will delivery companies take over and look after luggage? In an era where Amazon can deliver anything to your door in 24 hours, it seems airlines might get new competition.


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