The trial, which was due to start in September, will be pushed back by at least two to three weeks because details are still being worked out, said BAA.
[It is now (10 September 2007) understood that Heathrow will begin a trial of RFID technology in September 2007 as planned. There is no delay to the project. The trial will test the effectiveness and benefits of RFID technology against the airport's existing barcode system and could revolutionise the way Heathrow tracks and monitors passengers' baggage.]
The airport operator said it would install RFID encoders on selected check-in desks to tag bags with RFID chips, which would then be scanned into its baggage handling IT systems.
"This will allow us to compare the success rate of RFID technology against our existing system," said a BAA spokeswoman. "We will then examine that insight to understand the benefits it offers."
The International Air Transport Association (Iata) estimated that the use of RFID technology could save airports and airlines £375m a year through lower system running costs and fewer lost luggage claims.
An Iata analysis of performance data showed that baggage mishandling had increased by 30% in the first half of 2007, compared with 2005. It said this was driving the business case for using RFID in airports.
A paper on the challenges of implementing the technology, produced by Trinity College Dublin, said that using RFID tags might require companies to invest in additional infrastructure, which could add to costs.
"The challenge of information management is exacerbated by RFID technology because of the sheer amount of data it generates," said Mairead Brady, lecturer in business studies at Trinity College Dublin.
"RFID technology generates a tremendous amount of data on a continuous basis and there is a clear need to develop application software capable of fully exploiting it before benefits can be realised."
Jen Albornoz Mulligan, an analyst at Forrester Research, said users still know very little about the security issues related to RFID systems, and few are encoding sensitive data on the tags they issue.