The rise of sanitised travel: Expect your bags to be “Sanitagged”

When we released our latest report on “The Rise of Sanitised Travel” we received a lot of interesting feedback on some of the new areas of sanitised travel. Probably, the one thing that received the most praise was the concept of “sanitagged” bags. And there’s a good reason why.

Luggage has been an important element of travel and is something we all are familiar with. In fact, according to SITA, “eight out of ten passengers check-in their luggage, most travelling with one bag, which amounted to around 4.3 billion bags carried in 2018.” 

Now with the growing concern of invisible viruses affecting our lives wherever we go, the way we carry our bags across borders must change.

Why your bag will be “sanitagged” 

What makes it difficult to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to scientists, is that it is very transmissible through relatively casual contact. James Lloyd-Smith, a researcher and a co-author of one study on COVID-19, says that “if you’re touching items that someone else has recently handled, be aware they could be contaminated.”

To make matters worse, scientists say that the virus is detectable up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what most bags are made of.

To cope with these problems, organisations like WHO suggest people wash hands regularly. But will you honestly wash your hands after every time someone else carries your luggage? Would you remind other people (your family members, colleagues, etc.) who might be helping you with your bags to wash their hands afterwards? Additionally, would you be able to find a place with the supplies needed to clean hands properly while ensuring the bag is safe? As this is nearly impossible to control we believe the luggage itself should be sanitised.

What are “sanitagged” bags?

Sanitised bags + bag tags = “Sanitagged” bags

“Sanitagged” essentially means sanitising bags and tagging them once they have been sanitised. There are two components of sanitagging:

  • First, bags go through fogging or a UV disinfection process which is added to the entrance of the baggage conveyor systems, which will ensure no germs enter the baggage conveyor system.

No doubt this is not something to be achieved in a day and will require a certain amount of time and resources to implement. Nevertheless, some airports like The Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, one of the busiest airports in India, have already laid plans to install UV disinfection for luggage.

  • Then bags are marked to indicate they’ve been sanitised.

This detail of marking bags is important because it provides a sense of security and care for all passengers and employees alike across airports and airlines. We suggest attaching a bag tag saying “sanitised” or “sanitag” so it is clearly visible to everybody. 

How “sanitagged” bags work

There are three stages on the day of airline passenger where such bag sanitisation should be implemented. sanitagging, sanitagged bags, sanitised travel, SimpliFlying

  1. The first is at the beginning of travel upon checking inUntil now, most passengers would choose their seats online, leave checked bags at a self-service bag-drop or walk straight through to security. In the future, passengers will need to head to the check-in counter to have their checked bags go through a sanitisation process and tagged as ‘sanitised’. This will ensure that any viruses from outside the airport don’t get passed on to bag handlers who potentially handle thousands of other passengers’ bags.
  2. The second stage of sanitising bags takes place at the security, which is already mandatory to every passenger regardless of their flyer status or category. Here we can expect each carry-on bag along with each tray to be disinfected upon entering the X-ray machine. By using fogging, UV-ray disinfection or other “quick” sanitising technique at this point will ensure that the commonly used items, like trays, are safe to use for everyone. Furthermore, seeing carry-on bags equally “sanitagged” will provide peace of mind to travellers and employees working in the boarding area.
  3. In the age of sanitised travel, things will also change when arriving at the destination. Upon landing, bags will be “sanitagged” before they are placed on the conveyor belt making sure no unwelcomed viruses enter the country through the airport. We believe this last part will be key in gaining the trust of governments and local people, once country borders are open again. Forming a Travel Health Authority or THA (as we described in our earlier article here) will be pivotal in regulating a consistent sanitation process throughout the traveller’s journey.

In the end, “sanitagged” bags can have a long term benefit and make our future travels much safer. It may not solve the crisis we have now but it surely will reduce the speed of possible virus outbreaks in the future. We hope to see good collaborations between airlines, airports and governments to make it happen.


Rapid Response Team - SimpliFlying - The Rise of Sanitised Travel - Covid-19

SimpliFlying has set up a Rapid Response Team to help airlines be ready for post-corona travel’s realities. The team has been holding Board-level briefings to orient executives with the new touchpoints. We will be happy to do a 30-minute call with your executive team to run through the detailed post-corona customer journey map. In order to help the industry, these calls are free for airlines and airports. Get in touch to set up a call.

Baiba Dreimane

Baiba Dreimane

Project Manager at SimpliFlying
Baiba Dreimane manages SimpliFlying's digital products and consulting projects to guide airlines through their concerns. She joined the team in 2016 and has since managed a multitude of projects internationally, including research and consulting projects for SimpliFlying's global clients, Airline Marketing Innovation Labs in places like Miami, Singapore and London, SimpliFlying's Annual Awards in London, among other projects. With a deep interest in digital innovation and design, she has tried her hand at founding a MarTech startup and has created one of the top travel micro-influencer profiles in Valencia, Spain, where she resides now.
Baiba Dreimane
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