French-based Airbus is usually in the business of making airplanes, not luggage. Normally, the company is busy trying to stay ahead of its two big American competitors, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin. Recently, however, Airbus became the unlikely innovator of a product designed to make commercial air travel a whole lot easier: the Airbus Bag2Go.
Not Just Another Rolling Suitcase
On the surface, the Airbus Bag2Go looks like almost any other rolling suitcase. It has a hard-but-flexible plastic exterior shell, it has four “all direction” wheels and it has a telescopic handle that makes the bag easy to drag or push.
Don’t be fooled by its generic appearance, however. At the top of the Airbus Bag2Go is a little device that has led Airbus to claim that the Bag2Go represents the “reinvention of luggage.” What is it? The Bag2Go includes an RFID chip, barcode, self-weighing scale and GPS tracking device.
“RFID” means “radio frequency identification.” Often associated with a barcode, RFIDs can be used to identify and track objects. Have you ever considered implanting a chip in a pet to easily find it in case it ever got lost? The chip you were thinking of is an RFID chip.
Airports are already starting to use RFIDs for self-checked baggage. The kiosks where we currently scan our own passports and print our own boarding passes could soon provide us with a scannable, trackable tag for our baggage as well. Thinking ahead, the Bag2Go is already equipped with a built-in RFID chip that can be associated with your name and travel itinerary. On top of that, an iPhone app couples with the bag and uses GPS to tell you exactly where your bag is at all times. The same app will tell you whether or not your bag has been opened and how much the contents of your bag weigh.
When you are taking an especially long trip, such as a trip with several layovers, pulling your bag around and keeping up with it can be exhausting. The Bag2Go hopes to eliminate that problem, too. With the iPhone app and a few clicks, the bag can be checked in from home and taken to the airport using a delivery service. From there, the bag is loaded onto the plane and flies to wherever it’s supposed to go. Another delivery service can pick the bag up from the airport and take it to the customer’s hotel or final destination. In other words, imagine traveling with checked luggage but without checking the luggage, claiming the luggage or carrying the luggage with you.
Airbus hopes to get into the baggage pick-up and delivery service, too. Right now, Airbus says, the average service costs around $40. Airbus thinks it will be able to offer much lower prices, perhaps as low as $13.
Look for the Bag2Go Soon
When can you buy your own Bag2Go? Airbus just revealed the product this summer and noted that it’s still very much in the development phase. However, the company expects that consumers should be able to start renting the bags from the airplane manufacturer in the relatively near future. Eventually, customers should be able to buy their own.
The problem the company is having right now is figuring out a business model that will be profitable for Airbus. After all, Airbus is an airplane manufacturer, not a luggage manufacturer. Its Chief Innovation Officer, Yann Barbaux, has expressed this concern in interviews and says that Airbus is still trying to determine how to make the Bag2Go a profitable product. He has noted that much will depend upon commercial airlines themselves, since they are ultimately the ones who handle and track baggage.Airbus Bag2Go: The Reinvention of Luggage by chase