• Virgin Australia introduced its bag-tracking tool on 70% of flights as part of its AU$400 million digital transformation program.
  • The tracking tool has been in development for two years and aims to keep passengers and bags together while instilling higher confidence in the system.
  • Virgin Australia's new Rapid Rebook tool allows passengers to self-manage bookings in the event of travel disruptions.

From today, passengers traveling on around 70% of Virgin Australia flights will be able to track where their checked bags are via the airline's app. Virgin Australia describes the innovation as Australia's "first-ever airline baggage tracking tool," and its launch follows a successful pilot of the program in May this year.

Virgin Australia's digital transformation

The new tracking tool is the latest installment of Virgin Australia's (VA) broader transformation program, which includes more than AU$400 million ($264m) investment in digital innovation. Other elements include newly launched websites, apps, digital systems and, most recently, Rapid Rebbok, a tool for passengers to self-manage their bookings end-to-end in the case of a disruption.

Virgin Australia Baggage Tracking app
Photo: Virgin Australia

The tracking tool, which so far doesn't have a catchy moniker, has been under development for two years, even though VA outperforms the industry average for mishandled bags. According to SITA, the global industry average for mishandled bags is 7.6 per 1000 passengers, while VA smashes that with a rate of just 1.5 bags per 1000 passengers.

While keeping passengers and their bags together is the primary aim, VA also hopes it will instill higher confidence in the system so more passengers will check their bags rather than take them onboard. Virgin Australia Group Chief Customer and Digital Officer Paul Jones said the carrier is proud to be the first airline in the country to offer travelers a baggage tracking tool, which he hopes will help VA on its "mission to be Australia's most loved airline."

"That means we need to listen to our customers to ensure we are offering the services that are most important to them. We know the potential of lost baggage is a concern for travellers globally and anticipate today's announcement will give many guests that extra level of comfort knowing where their bag is at every step of the journey."

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The tracking will be available on most domestic routes between major airports, including Sydney-Melbourne, Brisbane-Sydney, Melbourne-Gold Coast, Melbourne-Hobart, Adelaide-Melbourne, Sydney-Sunshine Coast and more. The balance of VA's domestic network, including select services departing from Perth, is expected to feature the tracking tool soon.

Virgin Australia Baggage Tracking
Photo: Virgin Australia

Rapid Rebook is another new digital innovation that resides in the airline's app. VA says it is the only fully integrated, self-service, disrupt management tool offered by an Australian airline for guests impacted by a flight disruption. Using the VA app, passengers can view revised flight details, explore alternative flight options and book accommodation and transport when everything doesn't go to plan.

More 737 MAX 8s on the way

With the sole Boeing 737 MAX 8 mostly on international flights between Cairns and Tokyo, perhaps the arrival of more new-generation 737s is the innovation for which most customers are hanging out. VA received the first of eight 737 MAX 8s in July, with the balance due by the first quarter of 2024. It also has 25 737 MAX 10s on order that will begin arriving around late 2024.

Virgin Australia 737 MAX 8 Economy Cabin
Photo: Michael Doran I Simple Flying

The good news is that VA is investing AU$110 million ($73m) to refurbish the remaining 737s to give all passengers the same quality experience regardless of aircraft type they are traveling on. The refresh will include new slimline economy and business class seats, in-seat power, onboard WiFi, inflight entertainment and larger overhead bins, similar to the cabins on the 737 MAX jets.

What do you think of Virgin Australia's new bag-tracking feature? Let us know in the comments.