Airport baggage handling: tips & tricks from an industry expert at Aegean Airlines

Image card promoting webinar with Timos Korosis from Aegean Airlines for Bob

Quick recap: What is IATA 753?

The IATA Resolution 753 mandates baggage tracking at 4 key areas.
The Resolution aims to improve global airport baggage handling and boost passenger happiness.

IATA introduced Resolution 753 in June 2018, mandating that all IATA member airlines should be able to track bags in 4 key areas: check-in, loading onto the aircraft, transfer, and arrival at the conveyor belt.

Airlines should be able to create and store tracking data and share these insights with their partners as needed. In the end, following, the successful implementation of Resolution 753, airlines should be able to notice a decrease in the amount of mishandling they have, each day.

At the moment, the majority have implemented Resolution 753, enabling people like Timos with crucial information to improve the baggage handling process. However, the Resolution doesn’t completely resolve all airport baggage handling challenges.

Challenges in airport baggage handling

Baggage handling is an intrinsic dance that involves airports, airlines, and ground handlers. Timos identified four key challenges faced by airlines and airports today:

  • Infrastructure limitations: The disparity in baggage handling capabilities across various airports presents a significant challenge. Timos knows this firsthand. His experience at Aegean means he works at large hubs, such as Athens airports, as well as tiny airports of the Greek islands. These airports often have outdated or even no baggage handling equipment.
  • Staff shortages: Then there are the staffing issues, especially following the pandemic. These shortages have not yet been completely resolved and can make performing all the tasks related to Resolution 753 difficult.
  • Lack of awareness: Timos noted that especially in the beginning, there was a lack of knowledge from key stakeholders. That’s why he had to invest time into educating and updating industry professionals.
  • Cost of mishandling: The financial burden of mishandled luggage is substantial. There are of course the direct costs, but also indirect costs to brand reputation and passenger satisfaction.

To quote a couple of numbers:

  • An article by SITA highlighted that: “Every mishandled bag costs about $100 to return it to its owner. Even if an airline has a very low mishandled bag rate, costs quickly add up.”
  • SITA’s 2023 Passenger IT Insights report remarked that: “22% of passengers experience negative emotions at the bag collection point.” This is one of the most stressful baggage points in the baggage journey, topped only by security.

Innovative solutions and best practices to overcome baggage handling challenges

A passenger picks up his baggage at the conveyor belt. Airport baggage handling can be stressful experience for passegners, with 22% of passengers feeling negative emotions at the bag collection point.
A passenger picks up his baggage at the conveyor belt. 22% of passengers reported feeling negative emotions at the bag collection point.

Plenty of challenges, but Timos also shared best practices to innovate and solve airport baggage handling issues.

  1. Understand the requirements: Make sure you understand what Resolution 753 is all about. What needs to be done? How does it need to be done? And, especially, why does it need to be done? Only then you are ready to move to the next step.
  2. Map the processes: Start writing down your processes to identify inefficiencies. This is where you’ll identify legacy procedures that can be done differently, boosting operational efficiency and passenger happiness.
  3. Formulate a plan: Once you have a deep understanding of the requirements and process, set up a detailed plan. This plan will have to be adapted to each set of airports you operate. An airport hub like Athens has a different setup than an airport on a small remote island. Create a specific plan for each airport or set of airports. Look at their strengths, their weaknesses, and what they can offer to you.
  4. Work with your partners: The adoption of digital solutions can greatly enhance operational efficiency and passenger experience. Think of automated delayed baggage notifications or smart baggage trackers, such as Bob’s TravelTag.

Example of successful airport baggage handling: Athens airport

Timos finished the webinar by giving some examples. He focused on the successful implementation of new ways of dealing with mishandled baggage, empowered by data insights.

One morning they had a lot of transfer traffic at Athens airport. A breakdown in the main transfer baggage belt caused downtime in the baggage handling process. The downtime had huge consequences. As the BHS of the airport was not operating, more than 1,000 bags were left out of their intended flight. And this in a time span of only 45 minutes.

Fixing this would normally take them two to three days and a lot of complex work. You’d need extra staff, look for reflighting options, and add new tags.

However, Timos decided to use the new baggage services application. By doing so, they managed to refly 600 bags in the first three hours with only two agents, and without retargeting them. These agents didn’t have to do anything else than just scan one bag and identify the reflighting option.

In the meantime, the rest of the staff could focus on normal operations, meaning that their efficiency wasn’t impacted.

See you at our next webinar?

The full recording is available on our LinkedIn page and will be uploaded to our YouTube channel soon.

Stay tuned for future discussions as we continue to explore the dynamic landscape of the aviation industry.

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