What’s all that information on your baggage label?

Have you ever wondered why such a long baggage label is attached to your suitcase after checking in? The answer is that it contains a great deal of information. But what, exactly?

Basic information

It all starts with the basics. After all, it should be clear where your baggage is headed to and to whom it belongs. That’s why you’ll always find the following information on your label:

  • Your destination
  • Time of departure
  • An IATA airport code, such as AMS for Schiphol
  • Your airline’s code and the flight number
  • Your surname and first name

Code for baggage system

So far, all very clear and logical. But labels have lots more codes and barcodes on them. These are required because your suitcase needs to be recognised by many airport processes. One example is the so-called license plate. In addition to a barcode, it contains a ten-character code that is printed on the label at check-in. As a traveller, you probably won’t be able to decipher this jumble of (mainly) numbers. However, baggage handlers can extract a lot of information from it. Furthermore, the automated baggage system knows exactly where your suitcase needs to go thanks to this code; from the moment you check in to the moment your suitcase arrives at your destination. The system can also see when a suitcase is travelling without its owner (because it accidentally got left behind, for example). All thanks to those 10 numbers.

Green baggage labels for EU travel

Most labels all look exactly the same, but some have green edges. There’s a reason behind this. If baggage has a label with green edges, it means it started its journey within the European Union. It’s handy for that to be visible, because when you arrive at another airport in the EU, customs can see that you are travelling within the EU. With a green label, you're always allowed to go through the 'nothing to declare' gateway. Of course, you might still be subject to checks at the customs officer’s request.

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