Rimowa announced its electronic luggage tags way back in 2015, but Lufthansa was the first airline that supported it. Essentially, the bag tags are a built in e-Ink displays on the suitcase, and can be updated to be the bag tag for just about any flight. This means you can check in for your flight via your app, and your phone will transmit the right information to your suitcase. Your suitcase will then display the luggage tag for your flight, and you can skip the long line at the airport.
I think the bag tags are a great innovation, and should save both the customers and airlines a lot of time. Since they are e-Ink displays, they are also not as prone to failures as traditional LCD displays. They are essentially static once “updated,” and after the information is loaded and displayed, the display no longer requires power to maintain. (Think: Kindle displays) This means the worst that could happen if it malfunctions is your “bag tag” failing to update come time for a new flight, but there are very easy backup solutions for that.
EVA Air has announced that they will be support the technology systemwide, starting December 1, 2016. In doing so, they will be the first Asian airline to embrace the technology. EVA Air has of course been a partner of Rimowa, since they offer Rimowa-branded amenity kits even in Business Class.
Not all RIMOWA suitcases come equipped with the bag tags (my new roller board doesn’t have it), so this will really benefit a very small number of passengers in the mean time. Still, I think it’s a step in the right direction, and apparently many other airlines are in trying out the Rimowa tags.
This is really nothing super new; British Airways did something similar way back in 2013. They issued selected passengers a custom bag tag with an e-Ink display, which can be updated to show luggage tags for a specific flight. I’m not sure what came of the trial, because I haven’t heard much about them since then.
Rimowa’s tags are probably more compatible with existing systems, since they look just like traditional bag tags. They might even be easier to scan, since they won’t move all over the place like traditional paper tags. But it’s of course much harder to roll out universally, because the display has to be built into the suitcase.
Either way, I think this is an exciting development, and I’m looking forward to seeing more airlines supporting new technologies like this!