Who carries the Bag? Have you thought about how much easier your journey to or from the airport might be if you did not have to juggle your luggage? What else would you do with your time? The RAeS Tony Lucking debate on this topic generated much discussion. As our chair, Andy Garner, Heathrow’s Baggage Director discovered very early in the evening, just about everyone in the audience had travelled with both cabin and hold luggage in the last year. Three members of the audience had experienced having their bags not arrive with them – thankfully none of these were from Heathrow. Mr Garner explained, that on current performance, passengers travelling through Heathrow would have to travel up to 50 times before they were likely to experience having their bags mishandled.
Our speakers raised some very interesting ideas on how things may be changing in the way we travel.
Randel Darby, CEO/Founder, Portr Limited described a future where you could have your bags collected and delivered to your home or hotel within hours of your flight. From the research that his company has done, passengers choosing this service would be more likely to use public transport to travel to the airport – a sustainability benefit; and would take the opportunity to explore the city or undertake work events in the time they had saved when not having to manhandle their own bags. Portr has found that passengers could save up to 60min in their journey through avoiding queues and not having to wait for their bag at reclaim.
Henrik Rothe, Senior Lecturer in Air Transport Management, Cranfield University introduced the audience to a future world where Airports were part of the city itself; where baggage carousels were a thing of the past; and where the experiences you had at the airport may be desirable even if you were not boarding an aircraft. Henrik further draws the audience's attention on his vision of the "Future Airport-City Hub & Spoke On the Ground" concept, where Cities like London don't necessarily need as much as six serving airports, instead one or two highly integrated airport hubs may have multiple city and county terminals to provide the necessary catchment and a seamless travel experience - potentially travel without bags.
Mevin Abraham – MSc student – took us through his research on ‘Alternative ways of baggage travelling from home to the airport and to final destination’. This research showed that the ideal solution for passengers was a scenario where passengers bags were transported directly from home to their final destination without the passenger having to do anything during the journey. If the bag could travel separately from the passenger then there could be enormous infrastructure space saving at airports too. This idea, though was the first one to be challenged by the audience.
Our open discussion with the audience, showed the breadth and depth of the participants with members coming from Airline pilot and flight safety backgrounds, to Air cargo operators and air travel customers from many different passenger segments. The panel was challenged by audience members identifying examples of where many cities, including London, have or used to have mid-city check-in capability. There was a perception that passengers will always want to carry some bags either because they are concerned about the security of the handling of their bags, or because they are still packing right up to leaving for their flight. Both the panel and members of the audience agreed that the bag travelling independently of the passenger was not considered a feasible solution given the anonymity of service providers in the courier handling chain, cost, paperwork burden and the time it takes to ship cargo (or unaccompanied bags). However different audience members disagreed on whether airline trends of charging for hold baggage was causing problems with cabin baggage.
The event was closed with an audience member representing the older passenger explaining that she felt a service that meant she did not have to manhandle her own bag was likely to encourage her to travel into her later years and hence be beneficial for the entire industry by ensuring an on-going, repeat customer.
To listen to the full debate click below: