Beginner’s Guide to Baggage Tracking
If you have a trip abroad coming up, you might be wondering if you should invest in the most talked about travel accessory of 2022: the luggage tracker.
Although missing baggage has always been a potential problem when traveling, the surge in pandemic travel demand combined with a global shortage of baggage handlers at airports has resulted in soaring cases of lost cases.
No wonder passengers like to keep an eye on their luggage. Of course, knowing where your luggage is and being able to access it are two different things, but if you’re looking to be reassured that your stuff hasn’t just vanished into thin air at the end of that conveyor belt, luggage tracking devices and services can provide that peace of mind.
Here’s a quick guide to your baggage tracking options.
* Lost luggage: why you might be unlucky if you bought items to help you out
* Lost airline baggage: how to recover your baggage and get what is rightfully yours
* What to pack in your carry-on amid the chaos of travel
3 bluetooth trackers to discover…
A Bluetooth tracker is a small gadget that lets you monitor the location of anything it’s connected to through your phone, tablet, or computer.
They’ve been around for ages, mostly used by forgetful types to keep track of frequently misplaced items like wallets and keys. But amid the chaos of lost luggage, they’ve found a whole new market of anxious travellers.
You may have heard of Apple’s AirTag, thanks to headlines like this. The first thing to know about the AirTag ($55) is that you also need an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to use it. You will need to connect it to the compatible Apple device for it to show up in the Find My app.
Once set up, the coin-sized tracker can be slipped into your bag (or attached to the outside with a keychain or special strap).
AirTag works by sending out Bluetooth signals that are picked up by other compatible Apple devices. you can see it on Find My app.
If you’re not an Apple user, don’t worry, there are other Bluetooth trackers out there. Tile offers a range of trackers (like the Tile Mate, $34.95) that work with Android and Apple devices, using the free Tile app. Like Apple, it relies on a network of Tile devices that communicate with each other via Bluetooth.
If you have a Samsung Galaxy phone, there’s also the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag ($49).
But are Bluetooth trackers worth the hype? Stuff Travel reporter Alan Granville and her husband recently returned from Europe with a tile in each of their two bags, and found the trackers came in handy when their bags didn’t end up making it on the plane during a close connection.
The trackers were able to communicate what the airline could not – the location of the bags. And while it took several emails, calls and a pleading message on social media for them to finally be reunited with their belongings, it was the trackers who gave them the information they needed to solve the problem. ‘affair.
And a follow-up service to know…
Some travel agencies and travel booking sites offer a lost baggage tracking service operated by a company called Blue Ribbon Bags.
Kiwi travelers could experience this service in Flight Centre’s new Captain’s Package add-on, which includes several features designed to give travelers greater peace of mind when booking travel.
So what is it, and how does it work?
It turns out that travelers can also purchase this service directly themselves, through the Blue Ribbon Bags website. Starting at US$5 (NZ$8), the New York-based company promises to track and expedite the return of your undelivered luggage. If it’s not found after four days, they’ll give you US$1,000 per bag – which you can keep even if they end up being returned later.
Sounds pretty cute, right? Well, there are a few pitfalls to consider. If your baggage does not turn up, you must first file a claim with the airline and obtain a mishandled baggage report from the airline containing a unique identification number.
You must then share this report and number with Blue Ribbon Bags, and you must do all of this within 24 hours of your flight landing. Blue Ribbon Bags says it will then step in to use its systems to locate and expedite the return of your bags – but by this point you will have already done the lion’s share of the work yourself, filing the claim with the company Aerial.
When it comes to that $1,000 payment, it seems many travelers were taken aback by the company’s terms and conditions, which state that your bags are considered “returned” when they arrive at the airport — and not in your hands. Thus, even if your luggage is still blocked at the airport after several days, you will not be entitled to compensation.