Shanghai-based China Eastern has begun enabling passengers travelling on domestic flights to track their baggage in real time through mobile messaging and social media platform WeChat.

The airline, which is the first in China to adopt radio frequency identification technology (RFID) to facilitate real-time baggage tracking, debuted the service on its Shanghai Hongqiao-Wuhan route over the Chinese New Year travel period.

Passengers can scan the bar code on the baggage tag or input their baggage tag number into China Eastern’s “mini programme” within the WeChat app, to see whether their baggage has been sorted, loaded and has reached its destination.

The service is supported by RFID, a wireless information and communications technology that uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags containing electronically stored information that are attached to items of luggage. When passengers check-in their baggage, staff members input the baggage tag number, flight number, departure and arrival ports, as well as takeoff and landing time into a chip embedded in the tag. This data is then collected automatically at each stage of the sorting, loading and arrival process into a back-end database, making real-time tracking possible.

China Eastern has started to promote the service at a number of key domestic hubs for flights operated by China Eastern and its subsidiary Shanghai Airlines that depart from the following airports: Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA), Shanghai Pudong (PVG), Xi’an Xianyang (XIY), Lanzhou Zhongchuan (LHW), Kunming Changshui (KMG), Hefei Xinqiao (HFE), Nanjing Lukou (NKG), Taiyuan Wusu (TYN), Jinan Yaoqiang (TNA), Qingdao Liuting (TAO), Nanchang Changbei (KHN), Chengdu Shuangliu (CTU), Wuhan Tianhe (WUH), Hangzhou Xiaoshan (HGH) and Ningbo Lishe (NGB).

On average, China Eastern processes information through its WeChat programme for more than 80,000 items of luggage every day.

This year, China Eastern also plans to implement RFID-based real-time baggage tracking at Beijing Daxing International Airport, which is set to open this September.