Q. I saw in the Delta app that I can track the location of my suitcase on a map. How does this work?
A. Several airlines have added the ability to use online tracking to monitor the location of your checked luggage. Delta Air Lines, for example, announced last year that it was adding radio frequency identification (R.F.I.D.) tags to its baggage-tracking system so that customers could see the real-time location of their luggage through the Fly Delta smartphone app.
The R.F.I.D. chip is embedded in the luggage tag that is attached to your suitcase at the baggage counter. The R.F.I.D. tag emits information about the bag (including its geographic location) over radio waves that can be picked up by the airline’s scanners, and that data can be pinned to a map for you to see. (The technology may sound new, but the ability to embed tiny flexible radio-frequency tags has been around since at least the 1990s.)
When you are traveling on Delta and have checked your suitcase for tagging, you can see your bag’s location by opening the Fly Delta app and selecting the bag-tracking option for your current flight. In addition to receiving a text description (like “Bag on Plane”) you can tap “Track on Map” at the top of the screen for a visual reference.
In an effort to cut down on inexplicably lost luggage and extremely angry customers, other airlines are also offering bag-locator services. Alaska Airlines and Lufthansa provide electronic tags for luggage and American Airlines has an online baggage-tracker page. Third-party devices for tracking luggage are also available.
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