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AA Quietly Introduces Free Real-Time Bag Tracking

Without any fanfare or even a formal announcement, American gave every passenger system-wide the ability to track their checked bags in real-time. 

When plans to create the world’s largest airline were formalized in 2013, architects of the merger sought to form a new airline by selecting the best policies of US Airways and the most successful strategies of American Airlines. One of the standard operating procedures US Airways contributed to a merged American Airlines was a policy of requiring that baggage handlers scan each bag as it is loaded on or off of a flight. Long before the two airlines became a single carrier, American adopted this policy from its new partner.

The core elements were already in place in late August when American decided to allow passengers to use this tracking data to check the status of their checked bags — an option previously made available to US Airways passengers.

“We’ve always scanned the baggage so that we know where it is in the system,” American spokesperson Laura Nedbal told FlyerTalk. “We just didn’t have the means to make this transparent to the customer — and now we do.”

Because the internal mechanisms to track checked bags were already in place long before passengers were given the option to see the results, passengers were able to track the progress of their luggage on all American flights system-wide on day one of the new feature. The handy new tracking tool for passengers was made available on the American website with very little fanfare and no formal announcement.

Nedbal says the airline wasn’t exactly keeping the new tool a secret. “We just want to make sure all are ducks were in a row before we really started communicating about it.”

Following the lead of US Airways, the merged airline hopes that offering passengers more information about the status of their checked bags will help mitigate issues with lost or delayed luggage. Travelers will know in real-time when their luggage is loaded on or off an aircraft and at which airport. Passengers using the bag tracking feature can ideally use that information to avoid waiting at the baggage carousel for luggage that won’t be arriving and can instead head straight to an employee who can hopefully help to address the problem.

American Airlines passengers can track their checked bags through the American Airlines website simply by entering flight information or the checked bag’s tag number. Bag tracking information is also automatically available to AAdvantage members on their online profile pages. The bag tracker is supported on the mobile version of the American website, but is not yet available on the American app, though the company promises to add the feature soon.

[Photo: American Airlines]

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