Apple AirTags and other bag-tracking devices have become a popular travel accessory. Airlines seem to mishandle checked bags at alarming levels due to both operational failures and strikes or shortages of ground staff.
A bag tracker can be placed in your checked luggage and has been virally shared. An AirTag was used by a British traveler to locate his lost checked bag. He discovered a storage room full of bags.
In November 2022, another traveler became a viral sensation after calling out an AirTag number to publicize the location where a thief took his stolen camera equipment.
Both of these cases are problematic because neither traveler received all their belongings back. Bag-tracking devices have a major drawback. Even though you may be able track the location of your bag, it might not suffice to reunite your bag with its contents.
Travelers have another option for reuniting their bags. To get their lost luggage back, I recommend that travelers use a mishandled baggage concierge service along with an AirTag or Tile.
Why an AirTag or Tile is necessary to track your checked bag
Let’s see if you’re still skeptical about the utility of a baggage-tracking device. For good reason, Tiles and AirTags are very popular among travelers. You can track your bags’ location using the large network of Tile and iPhone users by simply putting a small, inexpensive device in your bag.
I interviewed travelers via Twitter about their experiences using bag trackers. Here’s what they had to say.
Frankie Misra, a traveler, shared an easy but effective way AirTags helped. The Delta app instructed him to go to Terminal 4 for his baggage claim upon arrival at New York-John F. Kennedy Airport. His AirTag however indicated that his bag was in the Terminal 2 baggage claim.
Kyle Brewington was another traveler who was informed by St. Louis upon landing that his bag, which was gate-checked, had been mistakenly left behind in Houston. After checking the AirTag’s position, he found that it was at the St. Louis airport. He was able to locate his bag after the airline double-checked it. It turned out that it was not left behind!
Another traveler shared her story about how she could have avoided leaving behind her checked bag. She noticed that her checked bag was still at the terminal when she boarded her flight at remote stand. A flight attendant was alerted and took immediate action. After 40 minutes, her bag was finally loaded onto board the plane as soon as the doors were closed.
The drawbacks of using only baggage trackers
But not all mishandled bags can be solved with luggage trackers.
One AirTag user shared his mixed experiences. He flew from London in January 2023 to Seattle. He tracked his AirTag and discovered that his bags had been lost on his flight.
Even though his bags arrived a day later than expected, the airline’s baggage management system lost track of them upon arrival. He knew where his bags were but couldn’t collect them from the airline until 11 days later.
My checked bag appeared to have a similar fate on a recent Copa Airlines flight. My wife found that our checked bag had been left in Panama City when she opened Tile after landing in Cartagena. The bag data was shown to Copa’s baggage agent in Cartagena, and a report was filed.
According to the baggage agent, the bag would be likely found and shipped to Cartagena via Copa’s evening flight. But, it didn’t happen. Our bag was found in the Panama City Terminal 2 baggage area throughout the night and the morning.
Blue Ribbon Bags was my lost luggage concierge service, and I immediately filed a missing bag reporting. Blue Ribbon Bags received my report within an hour and sent an urgent request for Copa. The airline quickly confirmed that our bag was found and booked the next flight to Catagena.
Our bag was returned to us within five hours after opening a report. It had been delivered with a rush tag.
There are other ways to track your luggage.
My experience with delayed baggage made me realize that knowing where your bag is located is only half the battle. Sometimes, it takes someone who understands the baggage system of airlines to get them to take action.
Blue Ribbon Bags was able, in my case, to examine the baggage systems used by the airline and find that Copa had not logged any activity regarding my case since shortly after I filed my missing luggage report.
Blue Ribbon Bags are not available to you. However, if you do not use them, you can get another person to assist you in finding your luggage. You can alert the airline’s baggage department about your bag missing. Call the assistance hotline if you have purchased travel insurance and they will do the legwork.
If you’re considering using a baggage tracker…
An AirTag is a good option for tracking down lost luggage. Baggage trackers have proved their value — from simple situations such as which terminal your checked luggage is at, to helping travelers track down stolen expensive camera equipment.
But knowing the location of your bag can only take you so far. You can get your bag back by using a baggage concierge service, airline employees or travel insurance hotlines.
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