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How Artificial Intelligence in Travel Can Enable Smart Baggage Handling at Airports?

Baggage handling is an integral part of travel and the way we handle it needs to evolve to keep up with the current trends in travel-related technology.

Baggage handling is a serious issue for airports, airlines, and passengers. So, what makes this process challenging? It’s the sheer number of people who travel daily places a lot of stress on airport operations with long lines and due to security reasons, they cannot expand their capacity. The need for advanced baggage handling systems has never been greater.

Smart baggage handling systems use AI-powered technology to automatically identify and sort out any abandoned, lost, or mishandled bags.

This blog will cover how AI in travel baggage handling can streamline some of the security processes at airports.

Baggage handling system at Airports

Baggage handling is a complex process of transporting luggage from a check-in counter to an aircraft, then to a cargo hold and then to an arrival airport.

baggage handling system (BHS) is designed to count bags, check weights and balance loads. A BHS also screens suitcases for security reasons, read bag information automatically, and transports bags through an airport conveyor belt system.

A BHS must be able to handle varying loads, including oversized or overweight items, as well as carry additional baggage during peak travel seasons. The BHS must also have controls that can detect if any packages have been tampered with or damaged during transit.

The baggage handling system consists of several parts:

  • Baggage handling counter: This is where passengers present their carry-on luggage to be checked in by staff. The baggage handler scans each item using barcode technology or manually entering data into a computer database using handheld devices such as handheld scanners. These are then dispatched by staff to be loaded onto aircraft for onward transportation
  • Baggage screening equipment: Screening equipment includes x-ray machines used to detect explosives and other prohibited items as well as metal detectors used at some airports (e.g., London Heathrow). Some airports also use handheld metal detectors for this purpose or have them in separate booths for security reasons.

Smart baggage handling

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and biometrics are improving how we move. From air traffic control to predictive weather for flights, applications driven by AI are poised to transform the contemporary aviation landscape.


According to Research and Markets, global smart baggage handling system market to reach $8.5 billion by 2027.

From facial recognition for passengers allowing for faster check-in, screening, and boarding, to data-driven automation helping airlines offer better-informed, dynamic pricing — we are living in a faster, more efficient, technology-driven world.

Driven by this new working model, AI could assist airports to make better decisions, using data analytics to help them run their BHS most efficiently. AI applications within existing BHS provide improved safety, improved passenger experience, and reduced luggage losses, while also helping deter smuggling contraband.

Some Smart Baggage Handling Projects

  • Lufthansa, for instance, uses facial-field biometrics to conduct touchless routing through security checks and boarding.
  • Intelligent systems like the “Fly To Gate” from Thales utilize biometric technologies along with document scanners to identify and validate passengers at the security checks.
  • Delta, one of the largest global airlines in the world, uses AI to optimize operations and costs, and innovates in its customer experience throughout each step of a journey.
  • Riyadh airports is using the latest AWS Amazon Web Services technologies powered by AI and machine learning to improve quality and operational efficiency of the King Khalid International Airport, to provide a better experience for passengers.
  • Infosys travel and hospitality practice offers automated asset management solutions to airlines and airport operators.

AI-Powered Baggage Handling System

A sophisticated, high-performance AI-based automatic object detection system could make a significant difference in the airport operations. It can automatically identify prohibited items objects from luggage via an X-ray image. The AI baggage handling system looks through every image as human eyes, contours forbidden objects, and gives an alert on screen.

It is a far cry from density-based object detection. Existing scanners work by hand-detection. However, AI systems automate the process of finding and localizing forbidden items on X-ray images of scanned luggage. For example, an AI-powered bag-handling system can scan up to thirty images a second, detecting banned items in black-and-white two-dimensional X-ray images, colorized X-ray images, as well as in three-dimensional CT-scan images. 

Source: AI-Based Intelligent Baggage Scanner System

It helps detect threats with higher precision and efficiency. As well as reducing false alarms and saving valuable time. The high bandwidth, at up to thirty images per second, helps airports process more passengers and flights a day, leading to higher revenues and profits. It increases passenger safety dramatically, eliminating human error from the baggage-screening process. 

AI system for baggage handling at Eindhoven Airport

Eindhoven airport is using artificial intelligence successfully for its luggage processing systems, which do not have baggage tags. The Eindhoven airport is piloting a new AI-powered luggage-handling system that allows passengers to simply take pictures of their luggage, deposit it, and collect it when they reach their destination – no labels required.

The new AI technology can track and tally bags for every single traveler using photo recognition, which helps predict how many bags each customer is likely to bring, based on prior travel data.

It uses algorithms to categorize luggage, and then matches it against the registered image set on the library, sending precise data including the origin, type, color, IATA classification, manufacturer, and dimensions of luggage — a far more granular picture than can be provided by traditional paper-tagging.

Eindhoven airport in the Netherlands has been testing a new artificial intelligence bag identification technology alongside industry partners Vanderlande and BagsID.

In an upcoming test phase, an imaging recognition algorithm will link to the airport luggage system. A camera on the baggage system takes pictures of a suitcase, and the photos are compared to a suitcase image that has been uploaded to the system before. The system uses cameras to monitor suitcases within the baggage processing area.

The new luggage check-in technology will eliminate the use of luggage tags and label printing machines, making Eindhoven Airport greener.

Wrapping Up

It is expected that using AI will be more accurate, greener, and cheaper than checking checked bags through scanned luggage tags. It is more environmentally friendly as there is no need for bag tags and label printers.

Robots could take over entirely, reducing passengers’ baggage anxiety. A passenger can track their luggage condition and location at any time through tracking.

Today, airlines and airports deploy comprehensive solutions in several terminals, which ease and accelerate the flow of passengers from check-in to departure.

Assuming successful projects, airport operators would be able to use existing data to decrease congestion, lower maintenance and downtime costs, energy usage, staffing costs, and to better utilize existing BHS, eliminating the need for upgrades.

However, the costs and the time required for its implementation, and its interoperability with existing systems, require an overall understanding and discussions which we as travel tech solution providers, are ready to begin. So, we can begin building a better, more efficient, smarter future for the aviation industry.


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