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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…

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