Flying with the Apple AirTag: When ‘boring’ really is praise
Turns out flying with AirTag is about as exciting as waiting in a TSA security check line, and that’s perfectly OK.
It was my first flight since Covid hit, and I was already late. Freshly emboldened by that sweet Pfizer goodness running through my veins, I had booked a trip to Florida to see my family, coinciding with Mother’s Day and Mother’s Birthday.
I bought a $ 99 four-pack for Apple AirTag – it still seems strange to me not to write the product name in the plural. One AirTag went to my wife, one went to an overpriced hockey equipment bag, and the other two were selected to travel – one in my personal item taken from the cabin of the plane (a backpack ) and one for my checked baggage. , which, for a 12-day stay, was dangerously close to Delta’s 50-pound limit.
Apple Maps told me it would be a 32 minute trip to LaGuardia, which would give me a lot of time. The Brooklyn-Queens Highway and my Lyft driver had other ideas.
Fifty-five minutes after leaving our apartment, we arrived at Terminal C in LaGuardia with 40 minutes to spare before take off. Delta’s baggage check-in closes 45 minutes before flight. My long-awaited extended stay in Sunshine State got off to a rough start.
Previously, as we watched the minutes go by in traffic jams on the BQE, my wife offered an upbeat version – we both have TSA PreCheck and would have plenty of time to go through security and catch our flight. Maybe Delta would put our bag overweight on a later flight. It would give me the opportunity to check on her status after I landed in Florida, which raised all kinds of interesting possibilities.
Would AirTag tracking work in the air, connecting to other users’ iPhones in the cabin? The prospect of not having my bag on arrival was frustrating, but following it on its trip to the East Coast seemed a bit exciting.
Alas, it was not to be. Delta would not allow our bag to travel separately from us. We had to wait for the next flight to Orlando which was luckily just an hour later.
Functional, not revolutionary, that’s good
The AirTag is not an “exciting” or “interesting” product in the sense that, say, a new iPhone or Apple Watch can be. Of course, AirTag is a technical achievement, leveraging a large network of iPhones to locate your items and make sure they are safe and secure. But your best day with an AirTag is when you don’t really need it.
A typical day at a TSA checkpoint can bring back non-empty water bottles, or a Swiss Army knife someone forgot was stowed in their carry-on baggage. It is not an “exciting” or “interesting” experience. And yet, we participate in it because of the rare instances where something could really go wrong, helping to prevent those worst case scenarios from becoming a possibility.
An AirTag is used essentially in the same spirit. No one plans to lose their luggage, keys or car. But hey, it happens.
Just as the experience of standing in line while waiting to be potentially searched by a TSA agent is, at its best, entirely mundane, the Apple AirTag is a quality, boring accessory.
If you buy and use a $ 99 AirTag four-pack, you will likely find that your keys are right where you left them, that your luggage is indeed on the plane with you, and no one is on the ride with you. your car.
Maybe every now and then you will use the speakerphone function to find your keys that have fallen on the sofa cushion. Perhaps the AirTag in your glove box will remind you which lot number you left your car with. It’s OK.
Sure, it’s boring, but a little bit of peace of mind can go a long way.
My tiny Brooklyn apartment doesn’t have a garage, but I imagine a HomeKit-connected garage door opener serves pretty much the same purpose. “Did I remember to close the garage door?” is a common moment of self-doubt. With a connected garage door opener, you can confirm that, yes, you have closed it.
For some, this insurance is enough to lower your blood pressure. Especially if you are facing other stressors, like missing your flight.
Back at LaGuardia, we cleared security in time to hear the last call to board our original flight. We got up and looked out the door as the Airbus A320 backed up from the jet bridge and headed for the runway. I took out my iPhone 12 Pro and saw that my bag was still on the floor with me.
We were on hold for the next flight at 5:10 pm so we still didn’t know if we would have a seat on the next trip. Using Apple’s Find My app, I saw that the bag had moved from the ticketing area to the terminal. It was a good sign and it made me feel at ease.
Shortly after, my wife received an update from the Delta app informing us that our purple Samsonite suitcase was, in fact, safely stowed on the flight. The agents at the gate hadn’t assigned us a seat yet, or even let us know we were going to be on the flight, but we felt pretty confident.
Sure enough, we were quickly informed that we had seats and that we had been upgraded to first class. Not bad for an hour of waiting.
Accidental first class with luggage on board safely.
A few days after I arrived in Florida, my editor texted me asking how my flight went. He too hadn’t flown in over a year, was newly vaccinated and a little stressed about navigating a crowded airport and piling up on a plane. I told him my story and he laughed, especially as I had used Apple Maps to gauge how long it would take to get to LaGuardia.
“Haha u trusted Apple Maps,” he sent.
My debacle wasn’t that funny when I was sitting on the BQE, but at that point I could laugh about it too.
I then told my editor that I was working on a story about flying with the Apple AirTag. I said I wasn’t really sure what to write. There wasn’t much to say. It works. It’s boring. He does what he says. And that’s all he has to do.
A week later, it was time to return to New York. I arrived at the airport – this time in Tampa, and this time with over an hour to take off. It was as trivial as you would expect. Somehow my bag weighed 5 pounds more at the airport than at home. The AirTag was tucked inside, ready to go on another adventure in the bowels of Tampa International, finding its way to my plane.
As we took the shuttle from the ticketing area to Airside E, I pulled out my iPhone. Yes, my luggage was still at the ticket office. Yes, my backpack was on me. Yes, my hockey bag was still at home in Brooklyn.
Later, at the boarding gate, the Find My app let me know that my bag had arrived at the plane. When we landed at LaGuardia, I saw him heading towards the baggage claim area.
AirTag isn’t precise enough to let me know with pinpoint accuracy where my bag was on the carousel itself, but that’s okay. It is not an interesting or exciting product. It is a three quarter size stacked washer, powered by a button cell battery.
It’s like a Mentos – you don’t know if it needs an “S” at the end of the word, and you could probably swallow it whole, if you don’t care about your health or your health. well-being.
Not everything Apple does has to be the iPod or the first iPhone. Apple doesn’t need to launch something that commands a market segment like iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods every year.
Sometimes “boring” is nice. Boredom can mean comforting, secure, and reliable. It can provide exactly what you need and nothing more. Boredom is there in case you need it, but I hope you never do.
Hope you never really have the excitement of using your AirTag. You can always turn to Apple Maps for this.
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