The Genius Behind Luggage Tags: John Michael Lyons

If losing your bags on your way to your much anticipated holiday doesn’t sound like a big deal, it’s possible that you’ve never actually lost your bags. As you watch the carousel stop turning and your luggage is nowhere in sight, that sinking feeling is enough to put a damper on any vacation. The following days without a change of clothes, your toothbrush, or your phone charger, are nothing short of catastrophic!

As the globe shrinks and we flit from one airport to another, we’ve no doubt come to rely heavily on those nifty little accessories; luggage tags. 

Underrated and often overlooked, these unobtrusive little adornments are worth every penny. If you’ve never questioned where, why or when luggage tags came to be, then you’re missing out on all sorts of fascinating facts.

The Initial Problem and the Birth of Luggage Tags

In the mid-19th century, as steam-powered locomotives and ships made long-distance travel accessible to the masses, a new problem arose – how to ensure that passengers’ baggage arrived at the same destination as they did! From this quandary sprang the brilliant idea of attaching labels, or what we now know as ‘luggage tags,’ to each piece of luggage. 

In hindsight, this is a no-brainer. But at the time, it was revolutionary.

This ‘Aha!’ moment, which occurred around 1882, came from none other than John Michael Lyons, an Irish entrepreneur. John’s idea was as simple as it was ingenious – a durable, paper-based tag that could withstand travel’s rigours, clearly printed with the passenger’s final destination. His innovation revolutionised the travel industry and has withstood the test of time, evolving in step with technological advancements.

The Purpose of Luggage Tags

What is the purpose of luggage tags? Simple.

First, they help identify and differentiate our bags in a sea of similar-looking luggage on the carousel. Think about it; how many times have you been saved from picking up a stranger’s suitcase that looked uncannily similar to yours? Yep, thank that little tag.

They also serve a secondary function – if our bags are misplaced or lost, they provide the necessary information for the airline or travel company to return them to us. With your information readily available on a luggage tag, your lost bags have a fighting chance of finding their way back to you.

So unless you’ve opted for one-bag travel, you’re going to have to check your luggage and trust that your tag does its job.



The Evolution of Luggage Tags

Let’s tackle another curious common question: ‘What are the 3 types of tagged baggage?’ Initially, luggage tags were straightforward paper or card labels attached with a string or cord. Over time, they evolved into more durable versions made of plastic or metal, which included a space to write personal details.

  1. Manual luggage tags: These are the traditional tags on which you write your name, address, and contact number, and you loop the tag onto your suitcase. They are used to identify your luggage and help it find its way back to you if it gets lost.
  2. Smart luggage tags:  These are electronic tags that use GPS, GSM, or Bluetooth technology to track luggage and provide real-time location updates through smartphone apps or other tracking platforms. Some examples of smart luggage tags include Apple AirTag, Tile, or Chipolo.
  3. RFID baggage tags: RFID tags fall under the ‘smart’ umbrella and take it one step further. These are tags that use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to capture highly accurate and consistent data stored on an RFID chip embedded in the luggage tag. RFID tags are used to improve real-time tracking of luggage throughout the travel experience

Demystifying RFID Luggage Tags and Tracking Systems

The concept of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) in luggage tags might seem like a complex idea, but it’s quite straightforward. At its core, it’s a wireless system that uses radio-frequency waves to transfer data from a tag attached to an object, in this case, luggage. 

But what does it mean for your travelling experience? Essentially, RFID tags are like high-tech versions of standard luggage tags. They don’t just contain your personal details but also a chip that sends out a signal. An RFID reader can pick up this signal, allowing your luggage to be tracked in real-time. For many, this provides extra security and peace of mind during their travels.

Whether through a traditional luggage tag, an RFID luggage tag, or a separate tracking device, the essence of John Michael Lyons’ invention remains: keeping your luggage identifiable and 

Personalised Luggage

There’s a certain charm to having a personalised item, particularly when it comes to travel gear. It’s not just about practicality – personalising your luggage is also a way of making a statement, adding a touch of individuality to your travels.

Did you know that Samsonite recognises this desire for uniqueness and offers a comprehensive personalisation service? 

Fancy your motto in life, a cherished memory, or your contact details etched onto your suitcase? Samsonite can make it happen. The option to engrave or emboss a personal message onto your suitcase adds a distinct flair to your luggage, ensuring it stands out on the carousel and making it unmistakably yours.

Laptop bags, too, can be transformed into one-of-a-kind pieces with Samsonite’s personalisation options. “Want to give your laptop bag that little bit extra?” Samsonite proposes. “Go for a personalised laptop bag and emboss up to three letters, emojis, or icons on a leather tag and add it to your favourite laptop bag.” This service is available in four different tag colours and many font colours, offering ample room for creativity. 

Small Tag, Big Impact

So, the next time you fasten that tag to your suitcase before a big journey, take a moment to appreciate the genius of John Michael Lyons and the impact of his invention. These humble luggage tags, whether they’re paper-based relics, sturdy plastic identifiers, or high-tech RFID trackers, continue to safeguard our baggage on every journey. 

Thanks to Lyons, we can travel with a little more peace of mind, knowing our luggage is accounted for, identifiable, and on its way to the right destination. We hope…

Related posts

Terms and Conditions


SAMSONITE SOUTHERN AFRICA (PTY) LTD, 68 Old Main Road, Kloof, 3610, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is organising the Samsonite Dream Rider Giveaway, hereafter “the Giveaway”, as described in these terms and conditions.


No purchase is necessary. The Giveaway is open to all residents of South Africa, that have obtained the legal age, hereafter “The Participant(s)”. Directors, officers, management, employees, other staff, agents, distributors and wholesale customers of SAMSONITE and family members thereof or any of its affiliated companies or any other persons involved in the making of this Giveaway are not eligible to enter this Giveaway. Any participation not complying with these terms and conditions is invalid. SAMSONITE explicitly reserves the right to refuse or remove a Participant, at its sole discretion, in the event SAMSONITE determines a Participant does not comply with all rules and regulations as contained herein. It is not the responsibility of SAMSONITE to ensure that the Giveaway participation requirements and use of personal information do not contravene the laws and regulations of any country of residency of participation, where it is being received or viewed. For the mentioned reason, all responsibilities relating to the participations to the Giveaway will be borne by the Participants who, it is understood, participate under their own responsibility and risk. In the event that any misfortune or damage should be experienced on the side of the Participant(s), SAMSONITE will not be responsible.


The Giveaway is open from 25th August 2023 until 7th September 2023 midnight (CET) (hereafter “the Giveaway Period”). Participation is only valid during the Giveaway Period.


The Participants can enter the Giveaway by completing the following steps:

  1. Follow us, like our post
  2. Comment and tag a friend
  3. Share post to your stories
  4. Follow @therealtekomodise and @samsonitesa
  5. Subscribe to our newsletter
  6. Follow @samsonitesa and @therealtekomodise on Instagram


SAMSONITE will announce the winners on 7th September 2023. All participants will be entered in a random draw and the first person’s name drawn will be deemed the winner. SAMSONITE reserves the right to announce the winners via e-mail, Facebook, Instagram & website. The winner will be advised by e-mail sent to the e-mail address given by the participate entering the Giveaway. Any change in e-mail/physical address may be sent to [email protected]. If, having determined the winners, doubts appear over the accuracy of contact details provided by the winner, SAMSONITE reserves the right to ask a copy of the passport/identity card in order to validate the allocation of the Giveaway once and for all. The winner should confirm that they accepts the Giveaway and the conditions for allocating the Giveaway, by replying to the confirmation e-mail within 3 days from receiving it. He should supply his full contact details (name, first name, e-mail and postal addresses). Failure to confirm acceptance of the Giveaway and to provide the required information within the stated timescale will result in the winner losing the right to claim the Giveaway and its reallocation to a new winner. Upon the Giveaway forfeiture, no payment or other compensation will be made to the original potential winner. The announcement date may be delayed due to unexpected circumstances. Decisions made by SAMSONITE are final on all matters relating to the Giveaway. SAMSONITE will not discuss the Giveaway results and will not respond to any requests for comments on this subject.


SAMSONITE will announce the winner on 7th of September 2023, the eligible Participant will receive the Giveaway based on the following criteria: Giveaway will be awarded only if the potential winner fully complied with these Official Rules.

The Giveaway cannot be returned and cannot be taken as cash. Each prize is awarded “as is”, without warranty regarding the underlying services of performance. SAMSONITE is not responsible for direct or indirect damages that occur as the result of the use or loss of the Giveaway, regardless of cause. SAMSONITE reserves the right to substitute the Giveaway with a Giveaway of an equivalent value should the Giveaway become unavailable for any reason. Only the owner of the Facebook, Instagram account or e-mail address will receive a Giveaway.

Giveaway: Samsonite Proxis spinner signed by Teko Modise


Participants accept that:

  •  The participation to the Giveaway must be fully complete and in accordance with the Giveaway’s terms and conditions (The Participants have to fill in all the required fields) and received before the end of the Giveaway Period to be eligible for the Giveaway drawings.
  • Use of computer programs and/or other automated devices to enter the Giveaway is prohibited.
  • SAMSONITE’s decisions as to the administration and operation of the Giveaway and the selection of the potentials winners are final and binding in all matters related to the Giveaway and is not open for discussion with SAMSONITE.
  • At the time of participation, Participants are deemed to have read, understood and be in agreement with the Terms and Conditions of the Giveaway. If they do not agree with them, they should not proceed with the Giveaway. By continuing to participate in this Giveaway, they agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
  • SAMSONITE retains the right to exclude Participants from participating in the Giveaway and to delete participations from SAMSONITE’s website, if these are not in line with these terms and conditions.


Samsonite has the right to vary these Terms, or terminate the Giveaway, at any time at its absolute discretion without liability to any entrant or other person. Samsonite will not award any product if the Giveaway is terminated.


Except as specifically set out herein and to the maximum extent permitted by law, all conditions, warranties and representations expressed or implied by law are hereby excluded. To the fullest extent permitted by law, Samsonite hereby excludes and shall not have any liability to any entrant or Giveaway winner in connection with or arising out of the Giveaway howsoever caused, including for any costs, expenses, forfeited prizes, damages and other liabilities, provided that nothing herein shall operate so as to limit or exclude Samsonite’s liability for personal injury or death caused by negligence. By entering the Giveaway, the entrant indemnifies Samsonite against any and all actions, claims, damages, expenses or liabilities suffered or incurred directly or indirectly by Samsonite in consequence of any breach or alleged breach, non-performance or non-observation by the entrant of any agreement, conditions, obligation or warranty on the part of the entrant herein. In the event that any provision of these Terms are held to be illegal, invalid, void or otherwise unenforceable, it shall be severed from the remaining provisions which shall continue in full force and effect.


By entering the Giveaway entrants warrant and undertake that the information submitted is true, accurate and complete. It is a condition of entry to the Giveaway that we have the right to communicate to the public the name of prize winner. Entrants hereby agree to such communication of their information. We may use information (including personal data) entrants provide by entering the Giveaway for the purposes of running the Giveaway.


Legal relationship between SAMSONITE and the Participants is governed by the applicable laws of South Africa. Any and all legal actions or claims arising in connection with this Giveaway must be brought in a court of competent jurisdiction in South Africa.


SAMSONITE disclaims any liability for damage to any computer system resulting from participating in, or accessing or downloading information in connection with this Giveaway, and reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, modify or suspend this Giveaway should a virus, bug, computer problem, unauthorised intervention or other causes beyond the Organiser’s control, corrupt the administration, security or proper play of this Giveaway. By participating in this Giveaway, Participants agree that no claim shall be asserted against SAMSONITE, its affiliates or any of its respective directors, officers, employees or agents in respect of any damages, rights, claims or actions of any kind whatsoever that result from their participation to this Giveaway and/or acceptance and enjoyment of the prizes. The Giveaway is void where prohibited. To the extent permitted by law, the right to litigate, to seek injunctive relief or to make any other recourse to judicial or any other procedure in case of disputes or claims resulting from or in connection with this Giveaway are hereby excluded and any Participant expressly waives any and all such rights.


By entering the Giveaway Participants agree to abide by all rules. The Giveaway terms and conditions are supplied to provide clarity. Please do not hesitate to contact us, via [email protected], if you have any questions or remarks.