Delta Airlines put $50 million toward technology to help track luggage in 2016. Now, we're hearing about another Delta lost baggage initiative: a smart way, if it works, to deliver missing bags to Delta passengers

In short, the idea is to recruit passengers to deliver missing bags to other passengers.

"At best, any delayed bag is a hassle for a customer," Delta's Chief Operating Officer, Gil West, said in a press release announcing the details. "We get that, so we've made investments and developed some out-of-the-box partnerships to take some of the stress out of that hassle by making the process of getting that bag easier."

Up to $650?

The details are pretty simple. Delta has been working with Roadie, one of the many Uber-inspired startups that's sort of like a gig-economy "Uber for package delivery." 

The thing that makes this a bit unusual: The idea that at least some of the Roadie drivers would be other passengers, who happen to be leaving the airport and can pick up a reported $8 to $50 by delivering other passengers' lost bags to them.

In some extreme cases, the fee could be as high as "$650 ... for long-haul oversize bag drop-offs," according to PureWow

Backed by Eric Schmidt's TommorowVentures fund, and "rapper-turned-movie star-turned-tech entrepreneur Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges," as Mashable put it, the Atlanta-based startup has been working with Delta for three years, but announced the partnership in greater detail recently.

It's not clear how many trips Roadie drivers have made for Delta, although the company claims it's expanded from 12 to 50 cities where it's working with the airline as of last month.

And Delta says it gets bags delivered to passengers about 65 percent faster using Roadie than via traditional delivery service, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The one thing we'll be missing

Assuming the money works out for the drivers, it seems like a good solution. Although one downside would be a reduction in the number of stories that road warriors like to tell about lost baggage horror stories.

(My two best lost baggage stories are about the time I had to go to court wearing a rugby shirt and khakis after an airline lost my luggage, and the time I wound up buying a $50 pair of underwear in Germany after United had to chase me all over Europe tracking down my lost suitcase.)

If you're interested to try picking up a few extra dollars by picking up other passengers' luggage the next time you're at the airport, you can download the Roadie app and sign up here.
 

Published on: Jul 8, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.