Alaska Airlines announced it will launch a new electronic bag tag program later this year through a partnership with Dutch company BagTag. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

Alaska Airlines has become the first U.S.-based airline to commit to introducing an electronic bag tag program, according to a July 19 announcement.

The Alaska Air Group subsidiary has partnered with BagTag, a digital tag maker based in The Netherlands whose paperless bag tracking technology is already in use with several Lufthansa Group carriers, China Southern, and KLM. According to Alaska, the tags are connected to individual airline mobile applications and can be activated up to 24 hours prior to flight departure.

Each tag features an embedded antenna and does not require recharging, according to BagTag’s website, which prices its “Fix” version of the tag at €57,81.

Charu Jain, senior vice president of merchandising and innovation for Alaska Airlines, commenting on the new program, said that the technology will allow the airline’s passengers to “to tag their own bags in just seconds and makes the entire check-in process almost all off-airport.”

Introduction of the new bag tag technology comes several months after Alaska opened a technology incubator hub in San Jose, California. The research hub has been tasked with developing new approaches to digitally transforming the air travel experience with a focus on airports. San Jose International is also the launch airport for the rollout of the new technology.

“Alaska Airlines is the first U.S. airline to pioneer this innovative electronic bag tag program here at SJC,” said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo. “This program will modernize the check-in process and provide a more sustainable option for travelers.”  

Alaska plans on rolling the new bag tags out in two phases; starting later this year, they will be distributed to 2,500 of their frequent fliers. Starting in early 2023, the electronic bag tags will then become available for purchase to Alaska’s Mileage Plan members.