There is quite some movement in baggage handling and its associated messaging needs and requirements at the moment. Though the IATA recommended practices RP 1745 and RP 1800 are around for quite a while, the IATA Resolution 753 (baggage tracking and custody) has to be implemented by June 2018 and the new BAG XML message standard is shaping up and will most likely released first time in 2017. Traditionally any handling of baggage requires a type-B message to be sent to the relevant parties. This is a push-based approach and due to the nature of type-B messages prone to errors (format) and accumulate costs by the distributing network operators and its transaction based charges. According to a IATA study/business case in the year 2012 26 million of bags have been mishandled, mostly for transfer bag handling and a good share of this is caused by missing or wrong messages.
This article is meant to provide an overview or general introduction, aka baggage messaging for starters. Baggage Handling is very complex process with dependencies and actors, including airlines, airport, handling agent and eventually the passenger and his baggage.
Main Systems involved in the process of baggage handling
||Departure Control System
||Baggage Handling System
||Baggage Reconciliation System
The Departure Control System is the operational backbone of every airline. It supports the check-in, baggage acceptance, boarding process and other related activities like load control, immigration.
The Baggage Handling System (usually owned by the airport) is a complex system of conveyor belts, chutes and bag drops that transports and buffers any checked-in luggage. It ensures that luggage that is checked-in, transferred or received from arriving flights is tracked, counted, scanned, screened and transported to the right bag chute or belt.
The Baggage Reconciliation System, usually used by the handling agent, helps to match passenger, bag, flight and container.
Traditional Type-B Messages for Baggage Handling (defined in IATA RP 1745)
RP 1745 defines the formats of the messages exchanged between the systems for automated baggage and passenger reconciliation, baggage sortation and other baggage services.
||Baggage Transfer Message
||Baggage Source Message
||Baggage Processed Message
||Baggage Unload Message
||Baggage Not Seen Message
||Baggage Control Message
||Baggage Manifest Message
Baggage Tag Number or License Plate Code
A unique 10 digit number as reference for each piece of baggage, defined in IATA RP 740.
The bag tag number is part of the baggage messages.
According to resolution 751, effective June 1st 2013, the format contains only numbers.
Sample: 0220208212 (0-220-208212)
The printed barcode is a regular ITF-14 code, any smartphone can read the barcode. The number is also printed on the bag tag.
KLM is printing a “KL” in between but the barcode only contains numbers. “074” for KLM.
The Transfer Message contains bag information for the outbound carrier of incoming transfer passengers. Part of a through check-in transaction.
The Source Message is sent from the DCS to the baggage handling system upon checkin at the airport or bag drop.
The Processed Message is an status update sent locally, eg. baggage handling to carrier. BPM’s are often batched.
The Unload Message is the instruction to unload (or not to load) a specific bag, eg. no-show PAX at the gate.
The Not Seen Message contains bag info for baggage that could not been transported together with the passenger.
The Control Message serves secondary level information, such as
BAM Baggage Acknowledgement
FOM Flight Open
FMM Final Match
DBM Delete Baggage
The Baggage Manifest contains baggage details for down line stations.
The Baggage Request asks for bag info from a baggage handling system.
A very simple sample of a transfer message
||Version and suppl. data
||Flight Number and date
||Flight Number and date
||10 digit bag tag id
||Passenger Name Record
Message Flow for interline flight
The below is rather simplistic view (sunshine scenario) of the messaging that happens around bag management for a 2 segment interline flight with through-check-in of bags.
A passenger is flying on LH 401 from JFK to FRA and SQ 025 from FRA to SIN. An interline flight with baggage checked through Singapore.
Relevant Documentation or References
||Baggage Service Messages
|Baggage System Interface
|Self Service Baggage Process
|Baggage Process Description for Self-Service Check-in
Remark: Most of the IATA documents are not available freely and have to be purchased, here only links to public documents or pages.
Disclaimer: The information provided here might not be correct or complete. It is for educational purpose only. For reliable information please refer to the IATA manuals.