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New Tech Hopes to Prevent Lost Luggage | News

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New Tech Hopes to Prevent Lost Luggage

LAS VEGAS -- It's what no holiday traveler wants -- lost luggage. But that will happen to about one in 50 travelers each year. McCarran Airport has spent millions putting microchips in its bag tags to prevent luggage from getting lost.

McCarran is one of only two airports in the world using the expensive and high-tech bag tags. They look just like any other, but peel this sticker back and you see a tiny silicon radio chip with a metal antenna around it. It tracks the bag from the moment it leaves your hand until it reaches your plane.

"These chips will pass through certain checkpoints and at those checkpoints, a signal will be emitted from readers. This chip will bounce back a signal and it knows as it passes through that point that this bag that belongs to a particular individual crossed through this point at this time of day," said McCarran spokesman Chris Jones.

The whole system cost $150 million to implement, but $100 million came from a TSA grant. The radio-chipped tags cost 14 cents per tag, versus the regular ones that are one or two cents. McCarran pays for the tags because they believe it's good customer service.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, one in 50 people lose their luggage each year, which is exactly what thousands of passengers don't want.

"I think it's a great idea if it could track your bags and make sure you don't lose them, especially this time of year," said Desmond Bell, who is traveling to Montreal.

The only downside to the new technology is not very many airlines use it. So once it leaves the conveyor belt to get to the baggage handlers, they don't have the capability to check each bag that gets on their planes. So there's still a potential for a mix-up.

The radio chips have 99 percent accuracy, since they're followed the entire time they're in airport buildings. Most airports still track bags using bar codes, which is why McCarran's tags still print them. But bar codes have a 10 percent margin of error.