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When checking in for my TAP Air Portugal flight this week at Heathrow Airport, I noticed that the self check-in kiosks had stacks of bright green bag tag flags. These flags were printed with the Star Alliance logo and the word "TRANSFER". I had a connection in Lisbon to another TAP flight; while I didn't use the green tags, I wondered if I should have.

Are these tags used to identify bags that are transferring between Star Alliance airlines, or within the same airline, or something completely different? When should I put one in my bag tag?

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General information on baggage handling:

When should I use a green Star Alliance “Transfer” flag on my airline bag tag? When should I put one in my bag tag?

When you feel like it or if it generally makes you feel happy. They serve no direct operational purpose mentioned in any IATA manual (obviously barring discretionary airport guidelines on baggage management systems).

Having said that, certain star alliance hubs have additional 360° scanners that recognize such tags if attached to the official baggage tag. I am not aware of any system that makes routing or sorting decisions based on this.

Are these tags used to identify bags that are transferring between Star Alliance airlines, or within the same airline, or something completely different?

They merely serve as visual hints, however all luggage handling has to run by LPN number (10 Digit License Plate). This number will provide a link to your itinerary in the BRS (Baggage Reconciliation System), which in turn will know your transfer route. It's imperative for baggage handling systems that luggage during transfer be not significantly faster nor slower than the passenger transfer time.

Star Alliance priority tags are sometimes recognized in baggage loading/unloading and sorting processes by certain star alliance hubs (mostly during solar eclipse). You might have seen those before:

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    Thanks, but that doesn't really answer the question. Airlines obviously wouldn't go to the trouble of printing these tags if they served no purpose. "Heavy" and "Standby" tags aren't in the IATA standards either, but they are nonetheless helpful in conveying information that isn't immediately obvious from glancing at a bag tag. – squircle Aug 12 at 0:04
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    They do serve a purpose: they support the traveler's thought that the traveler holds special and distinctive status. This thought fosters the traveler's emotional connection to the carrier, which the carrier will see as a benefit. – DavidSupportsMonica Aug 12 at 16:13
  • @squircle My answer is sufficient and is a valid reply to your three questions. I did mention that "They merely serve as visual hints" and I left the possibility open that individual airports might have processes of visual sorting/distributing recognizing extra tags, so the same goes for the "Heavy" and "Standby" tags. Today, I had two flights, so I decided to ask the Swissport duty manager in GVA. He confirmed my response. I'll keep asking because I'm interested in it myself. – Moreaki Aug 14 at 20:27
  • @DavidSupportsMonica I'm not asking about the Priority tags though: I'm asking about the "transfer" tags, which have nothing to do with airline status. – squircle Aug 15 at 1:27
  • @squircle You're right, I see now that I was reacting to the image posted by another. – DavidSupportsMonica Aug 15 at 2:19

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