Know that sinking feeling "the luggage carousel comes around, but your suitcase is not on it?
About 30m bags are lost every year on international flights â€“ at a cost to airlines of $3.65bn, says NicolÃ¡s Keglevich, who this week launched a device the size of a mobile phone, which he says will resolve the problem.
Designed by Argentine, North American and Israeli engineers and made in China, the device uses technology similar to that of cellphones to track the missing luggage, thus helping airlines to slash the insurance costs and man hours devoted to reuniting 42m passengers a year with their belongings.
Mr Keglevich, who in 1972 founded the AssistCard travellers' insurance and emergency assistance company, launched the device at the International Air & Space Fair in Santiago. He sold AssistCard to Starr International last December.
"I founded AssistCard 40 years ago. I learnt that travellers have two worries: their health and their luggage," Mr Keglevich told the FT.
The device, called Lug Loc, uses GSM technology rather than GPS satellite monitoring, because GPS does not work inside buildings, he said. His team worked for four years to perfect the latest generation GSM tracking device, which he says is guaranteed to work worldwide.
Hungarian-born Mr Keglevich, who has Argentine and Hungarian nationality, hopes to sell 5m of the devices, priced at $39, this year and was encouraged by initial interest at the fair, where it attracted a queue of people 100 yards long.
His company, Bag Tracking Systems SA, is based in one of Uruguay's 13 tax-free zones and has invested $25m in the development and production of the device to date.
Travellers will be able to buy it from June at airports, both in the duty free shops and where plastic suitcase-wrapping services are available, as well as in luggage stores and online. The company is also offering it to airlines.
The device, which weighs 20 grams, is slipped inside a suitcase and the Lug Loc system can instantly locate it, he says. That compares with the average 72 hours it takes to find a lost bag at the moment.
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