For the past several years, the airline industry has been making spectacular profits by using a conscious strategy of making flying less pleasant for passengers. Next on the agenda: your luggage.

The Wall Street Journal today reports on the next frontier of “reducing the number of human employees in a given industry to zero, or the closest possible approximation thereof.” Airlines across the globe are pushing to make the process of tagging and checking your luggage something that you do yourself, rather than requiring the assistance of a human clerk who must be paid a salary.

Their latest ideas including letting fliers tag their own bags, print luggage tags at home and track their bags on smartphones. Later this year, some fliers in Europe likely will begin using what could be the future of flying luggage: permanent bag tags that digitally update if flight plans change. Improved technology and loosened security rules are accelerating changes to baggage handling.

This move, which the paper says will be available at “three quarters of carriers” globally by 2018, is one more step towards a day when you can be whisked to the airport by a self-driving car, get your boarding pass at a kiosk, tag your luggage yourself, be felt up by security robots, eat food from a vending machine, and then board a plane that will sit at the gate without moving, because the last remaining airline pilots have gone on strike.

We can only dream that eventually technology will allow airlines to produce a seat that a human can fit in.

[Photo: Flickr]