AI Will Make It Easier To Find Items Lost In Airports And On Airplanes

Millions of items are lost during air travel each year. Valuable devices, important documents, and sentimental artifacts are misplaced on aircraft and at airports each day. This issue isn’t only frustrating for passengers. It costs the aviation industry millions of dollars to repatriate items. However, SITA, the IT provider for the air transport industry, believes it has the key to reducing the headache. SITA President Europe Sergio Colella spoke exclusively with Simple Flying about the initiative.

SITA Airport
SITA’s application searches a worldwide database of images and descriptions to match found items against a missing item report. Photo: SITA

Taking it to the next level

The WorldTracer solution is already utilized in 2,200 airports by the majority of the major airlines across the globe. It’s the only fully global baggage tracing and matching system in the world, offering a standardized solution for reporting and repatriating lost luggage.

The system has now been scaled up to help travelers take control of their lost property. The WorldTracer Lost and Found Property is an ATI-specific, cloud-based program. Using modern tech, the system enables carriers to handle lost and found problems swiftly and correctly. Importantly, it allows items to find their way to their rightful owner while adhering to data protection policies.

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Airlines are undoubtedly keen on such a solution as the application cuts the cost of repatriating items by 90%. Meanwhile, the time it takes to find and return the objects is massively reduced. Notably, 60% of the items are returned within the first two days of being reported.

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It takes 30 seconds for an agent to register a lost item and a minute to create a full found item report while cutting out the need for inbound customer calls. Photo: Getty Images

A high-tech solution

While the aviation industry has gone through a major technological shift in the last few years, lost property handling is still largely manual, with the process passing through several different departments. The procedure can also be invisible, creating anxiety for passengers awaiting their items.

WIth WorldTracer, users can register a claim using their mobile devices and then keep on track with the journey of their item at different stages, no matter where it is in the world. Machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing all combine to offer a well-rounded solution. Image recognition also helps to identify key details such as color, materials, and brand.

Benefits on both sides

Colella highlighted the key advantages of the application. Ultimately, stakeholders in the lost property process will benefit across the board.

“The top benefit of WorldTracer® Self Service is that it provides passengers with a self-service option for reporting, tracking, and managing delayed or damaged bags from their own device with ease. Reducing queues is, of course, a major benefit of this solution, because passengers no longer need to queue at a baggage service desk and so can avoid close contact with baggage staff. Already 66% of passengers say they would definitely use their mobile device to report mishandled bags so we believe this technology can significantly improve the passenger experience for many,” Colella told Simple Flying.

“On the other side, the benefits naturally also extend to airlines – particularly when it comes to cost-saving. Better communication, via technology, reduces the need for agents to process delayed baggage face-to-face and for passengers to contact call centers to check on the status of their bag. While maintaining an airline’s digital voice, WorldTracer® Self Service provides a comfortable and easy to use experience but – most importantly – it eliminates the hassle of waiting at the baggage belt or queuing at a Lost & Found counter.”

SITA Passenger
SITA is eager to create smoother experiences for passengers and airlines with its AI solutions. Photo: SITA

The wider mission

Altogether, this initiative is part of SITA’s wider focus this decade to support the industry through its recovery in the new climate. It shares that it is committed to working with customers to keep operations running now and into the future. The group believes technology has a major role to play in ensuring the smoothest possible recovery for all stakeholders, and the benefits of accelerated digitalization will last well into the long term.

SITA concludes that it understands the urgent need for a safe, seamless passenger journey using low-touch and contactless technologies, as well as the need for agile and cost-effective platforms. The institution began crafting this journey long before the global health crisis. However, it will continue to help airports and airlines deliver solutions allowing them to safely resume flights and get the industry moving again.

What are your thoughts about the SITA’s WorldTracer service? Do you feel that it will be a game-changer when it comes to lost property? Let us know what you think of the prospects in the comment section.