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Airline Lost Your Luggage? Let Your Phone Find It

Lost baggage awaits auction in London
Lost baggage awaits auction in LondonPhotograph by Graham Barclay/Bloomberg

New airline bag tags that can be programmed with a mobile phone could make those sticky strips of paper a thing of the past—and maybe even prevent a painful separation between you and your bag. Airlines around the globe are keen to dispense with the bar-coded thermal paper tags they print by the billions and loop onto your luggage.

That adhesive paper is expensive, and the codes don’t keep millions of bags from being lost each year. Worldwide, about 1 percent of luggage was mishandled last year, costing an estimated $2.6 billion, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).