Without a doubt, the Rimowa digital check-in luggage is a luggage fiend’s dream come true. But these Red Dot design award winners may not solve your biggest baggage problem.

This beautifully designed luggage is the collaborative project between luxury travel bag manufacturers Rimowa; Airbus, the manufacturers of the super sleek A350 who build other nifty planes too; and ever-stylish Lufthansa.

All the DNA is there to make these bags as functional, sturdy, and high-tech as they are gorgeous.

The Rimowa digital line of luggage promises to let you check in your bag at home, with a nice digital bag tag on an HD screen–it connects to your bag through Bluetooth. The plan is to have passengers drop bags off those digitally pre-checked bags and walk to their gates with a digital boarding pass. Streamlined. Seamless. Simple. Elegant.

Except..

Before you rush out to buy a new set of the beautiful Rimowa luggage, the problem is understanding what it takes for aviation to offer effective track and trace on bags–and the problems airports have right now even taking drop-off luggage, regardless of style or tag type.

It’s a complicated matter, so I wrote a long-piece about it last year for Passenger Terminal World magazine, which you might enjoy reading.

IATA Resolution 753 promises to ensure that all bags are tracked for passengers along the journey. It’s going into effect quite soon (2018). It will apply to any type of bag.

But the Resolution doesn’t promise seamless baggage handling and tracking initially. It mainly serves to help airlines keep track of your bags so they can at least notify you where your bags are not–and who is responsible for misplacing them.

Baggage drop machines are expensive and not yet available in all airports. It will be a long while before those are universally available.

The aviation industry is working with luggage manufacturers on a number of digital baggage tracking solutions. They are all clever, some sleeker than others.

Many of these high-tech solutions have been around for a while waiting for their ideal time and place.

If you ever want to bank on what technology will take hold–in any industry–look to whoever gets the job done in a simple way which costs less and causes fewer problems in service.

One practical, simple and handy solution revealed by SITA and Lufthansa at the Passenger Terminal EXPO in Cologne this week.

Simplicity is an Artform

SITA and Lufthansa have partnered on a new-generation WorldTracer® system which lets Lufthansa agents find your bags–wherever in the world they are–through a simple desktop application.

The system can record baggage which has been delayed, and track missing bags by linking up with ground handlers, airport operators and other airlines with access to WorldTracer’s global baggage data. The data on bags is matched to the airlines’ reservation or operations systems which makes matching the lone bag to the disappointed owner easier.

It’s being deployed to all agents across the Lufthansa group this year.

In all, the SITA WorldTracer program has global reach to 450 airlines and ground handlers at more than 2,500 airports. Making this Lufthansa upgrade version link up to systems in the rest of the globe is relatively easy and low-cost.

“Technology has played a vital role in reducing the number of mishandled bags, saving the industry $18bn since 2007,” says Dave Bakker, SITA President Europe.

“However, unforeseen situations such as weather delays can still result in a bag being mishandled. This new, easy-to-use application of WorldTracer speeds up the process of tracing and recovering mishandled baggage and provides further cost savings for airlines, airports and ground handlers,” Bakker explains.

SITA also recently launched a WorldTracer Tablet application which lets agents roam the airport and help reunite passengers with their stray bags–or at least find out how soon they’ll get where they should be.

This system requires no special luggage and no special bags.

It focuses on solving the problem of tracking in the back end–at the logistics level.

To make compliance with Resolution 753 even easier, airlines will likely incorporate some form of electronic tracer program which doesn’t cost much, won’t break easily, and all passengers can use. The smart money, I hear, is on tags similar to today’s tags with RFID chips embedded in them.

Bottom Line

For heaven’s sake, don’t deny yourself the pleasure of showing off gorgeous luggage with HD digital labels and a handy app!

I understand from Rimowa that there will be finally be an airport announcing that it’s ready to check-in these pretty babies soon–in the coming weeks, they say. (Who wants to bet that airport is in Germany?)

But don’t toss out your trusty, reliable, well travelled, lovingly scuffed luggage anytime soon.

New things are always delightful–but it’s hard to figure out how many of them will endure. The classics already have.

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