A new way to skip the line: Electronic bag tags are now available on Alaska Airlines

Mockup of the electronic bag tag that Alaska Airlines is distributing.
Mockup of the electronic bag tag that Alaska Airlines is distributing.

Alaska Airlines passengers who want to check a bag won't have to wait for a ticket agent much longer. The airline announced Wednesday that it was rolling out electronic bag tags – first to some elite frequent flyers, and then for purchase by the general public in the coming year.

"The last thing our guests want to do is stand in line," Alaska Airlines senior vice president of merchandising Charu Jain said in a statement. "With the addition of the Alaska Airlines electronic bag tag our guests can complete almost all of their check-in tasks – from the comfort of their home, at work or on the way to catching their flight."

Here's what passengers need to know about the devices.

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How do the Alaska Airlines electronic bag tags work?

According to the airline, the 3x5 inch devices are programmed through Alaska's mobile app and updated with the passenger's flight information during check-in.

Alaska estimates that passengers who use the electronic tags will spend 40% less time in pre-security areas of the airport, and will help the carrier become more sustainable by cutting down on its use of paper bag tags.

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"In addition to the device’s impressive lifespan and durability (Alaska Airlines employees tested it by running it over with a truck), the devices don’t require charging or batteries," a statement from the airline said.

The tags will be usable on all Alaska Airlines flights, including those operated by Horizon Air and SkyWest Airlines.

Who will get access to the electronic bag tags first?

Alaska Mileage Plan members will receive the new devices first. According to the airline, 2,500 bag tags will be shipped to elite status members who have traveled in the last 12 months, checked in at least one bag and previously registered to use them.

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"We'll collect feedback from our first wave of users before the devices become available to purchase to all our guests early next year," Jain said in a statement.

Alaska said anyone will be able to purchase an electronic bag tag sometime in 2023. You can register to be notified when the wider release begins. The tags will be delivered to users at home.

Can I still use a printed bag tag on Alaska Airlines?

Yes. For now, only select frequent flyers will have access to electronic tags, and the airline has not announced any requirement to purchase one when they become more widely available.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alaska Airlines introduces electronic bag tags