Airport Baggage Carts Turn 40!

For Immediate Release


Contact: Tamara Phippen
Corporate Communications
Smarte Carte, Inc.
Telephone: 651-429-3614
Fax: 651-426-0927
E-mail: [email protected]



Smarte Carte introduced the “self-serve” concept at airports in 1967

SAINT PAUL, MN (September 2007) — Long before ATMs, airline check-in kiosks, and robotic kiosks that vend everything from DVD rentals to the iPod® became common place at airports, Smarte Carte, Inc. introduced North American airports and air travelers to the convenience of self service.

It was 1967 when Jim Muellner of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, was commissioned to design and build some of the first self-serve baggage cart vending machines for Hughes Industries of Littleton, Colorado. After setting up baggage cart services in Salt Lake City and Minneapolis, Hughes Industries went bankrupt trying to produce a large order for the Los Angeles International Airport.

Realizing the product’s potential, Muellner purchased the company in 1967 with the firm belief that “helping people help themselves” would make traveling more convenient and enjoyable. The September 2007 issue of Self Service World™ Magazine asks the question “When does self-service succeed?” Their answer? “When you simplify consumers’ lives, giving them the things they want in a fashion that is convenient for them.”

While baggage carts are a popular passenger service today, in 1967 (with the exception of a few international arrivals areas) baggage carts were not available at US airports. When Smarte Carte, Inc. was officially incorporated in 1970, the airports in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles were the initial three airports to welcome the self-serve baggage cart service for passengers.

Next came Oakland and other airports soon followed.

As the number of Smarte Carte operations grew, so did the need for further automation and innovation. Mechanical tugs, dollar bill acceptors, change-making and remote management capabilities were added to enhance the service. In 1992 when Smarte Carte added its credit card payment option, it was the first vending company to offer unattended credit card acceptance.

Over the years, Smarte Carte built on its reputation as an innovator and self-service leader to bring computerized electronic lockers to airports, train and bus terminals, amusement parks, waterparks, zoos and ski resorts, as well as self-serve vended strollers to shopping malls.

Most recently, Smarte Carte introduced air travelers to its self-serve rapid charging kiosk – the Charge Carte™. Generally placed in busy gate areas, the Charge Carte provides charging cords for the most popular cell phones, smartphones and the iPod®. Since its introduction in December of 2005, approximately 80,000 people have used the Charge Carte rapid charger to stay connected and productive during airport dwell times.

St. Paul, Minnesota, based Smarte Carte pioneered the baggage cart industry 40 years ago and continues to lead the industry with innovative self-serve products and an emphasis on customer service. Today Smarte Carte has operations at over 1000 transportation, shopping and entertainment facilities worldwide, including more than 150 North American airports.

For more information on Smarte Carte products and services, please visit