We know that holiday travel can be stressful, to say the least. Planes and hotels will be full, long security lines are a guarantee, plus possible cancellations, massive crowds and tons of other travel nightmares. But perhaps the most frustrating prospect is discovering that your luggage has gone missing.
To prevent luggage panic, we’re big fans of adding Apple’s AirTag tracker to our bags, which uses Apple’s “Find My” network and Precision Finding technology to show you exactly where your items are at any given time.
Apple AirTag is the perfect tool to take with you on any trip. Its simplicity, functionality and size ensure you never lose track of your bags on the go. The peace of mind your bags have endured on your trip is worth the reasonable price tag.
If you want to make sure the whole family can track their bags on your trip, consider a four-pack of AirTags.
The most important thing to know about AirTag is that it works on Apple’s Find My network. It’s the same network that powers Find My for all your Apple devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, AirPods and Mac. It’s a tool that makes it easy to track exactly where your device is and even plays a tone for easy locating.
It is also the size of the network itself that gives the object tracker a step up. Find My Network consists of over a billion connected devices. So when you’re walking around an airport and there’s an AirTag in your luggage, it can be pinged by devices that make up the network and locate yours on a map. In our tests, it was more reliable and faster to update than a competing Tile tracker.
Now, in a fairly dense area like an airport—say, Newark Liberty International (EWR) or New York–Kennedy (JFK)—having so many devices around allows for frequent location updates to your AirTag, allowing for more accurate location tracking. The opposite can be said for a rural location in New Jersey versus New York City. The more devices your AirTag can reach, the more accurate and updated the AirTag location.
And yes, you need an iPhone to use AirTag. You can set it up by holding it near your iPhone and using the on-screen instructions to name it and associate it with your Apple ID. Now, from a privacy standpoint, Apple has issued updates to address common issues with smart trackers and some of the bigger stalking issues with AirTag.
Currently, you’ll get a notification if your iPhone finds an AirTag near you that isn’t registered, along with a notification if you’re traveling without an AirTag that’s registered to you. Apple is working to speed up these notifications.
With the “Precision Finding” feature, Apple will find an unwanted or unregistered AirTag near you. Apple has also released a Tracker Detection app in the Play Store for Android, which can be used to find an AirTag that may be around you without an iPhone. Apple will also make it more obvious when setting up an AirTag that there are some negative use cases and ways to report them to the authorities.
Yes, AirTags are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA ruled that carrying an AirTag in luggage is permissible and not actually a security risk because the tiny devices only contain 0.1 grams of lithium, which falls below the FAA’s limit.
During my first testing of the AirTag, I flew from Newark to Palm Beach International Airport (PBI). I placed an AirTag in the inside pocket of a suitcase and said goodbye when it was checked. I also added an accessory in a leather loop for my carry-on backpack.
In the Find My app on my iPhone, I could select “Jake’s luggage” and see it on a map. I could see where my luggage was in real time – still at the front of Newark Airport. And even though I didn’t physically have a line of sight on my luggage, I had the peace of mind that it was on its way to meet me at my final destination.
Sure enough, when I checked a little later when I was at the gate, the luggage was closer to the aircraft. When I boarded and was in my seat, I could see that the luggage was safely under me and a little further back in the hold of the plane. And while airplane mode is required when I was on the plane, even as we flew over the East Coast of the US, I could see the luggage’s AirTag updating in real time.
While AirTag won’t magically save you if your luggage gets left behind from your flight, it does give you some real-time peace of mind and a place where airlines can find your bags, should the need arise. And to have a few information about where your bags are is definitely better than having none at all.
When it was time to fly and get to baggage claim, I kept track of my luggage in the Find My app. It was a little slower to update as I wound my way through a fairly quiet terminal, but at least I could make out that my bag was on the ground.
Once you’re close to your bag, the Airtag’s Precision Finding feature uses augmented reality, or AR, to give you large directional arrows along with distance to direct you to your item. It’s pretty cool and it’s a game changer for object trackers to offer such precision.
If you want to supercharge AirTag as the ultimate travel companion, it’s worth checking if your airline offers any baggage tracking services of their own. For example, Delta will keep track of your bag and update you via its app for Android or iOS. In it, you can track the bags linked to your itinerary as they are scanned at each leg of the journey and make their way through the airport and onto the plane.
From dropping off your bag at check-in until it’s loaded onto the plane and then into the baggage claim carousel, AirTag combined with an airline’s bag tracking app feels like a superpower.
AirTag’s only downfall? There is no built-in key ring hole, like on the Chipolo or Tile tracker, which is a shortcoming. Keep in mind that while you’re spending nearly $30 on the tracker, you’ll want to get an accessory, especially to make it suitable for travel.
If you have a pocket or a safe place to put the AirTag in your luggage, you don’t necessarily need an extra accessory. But if you want to attach it securely, we think it’s worth investing in a key ring or loop accessory.
One of our favorites is the Belkin Secure AirTag Holder, which physically clamps the AirTag and keeps it from falling out. You can normally grab it for less than $15, which is much cheaper than Apple’s leather key ring or leather strap.
If you’re good at losing things in style or have a habit of misplacing things — and have an iPhone — the AirTag makes a lot of sense. When you’re not using the AirTag for travel, it’s also a great addition to everyday valuables like your keys or wallet. So when you’re doing the final baggage checks before your next flight, consider investing in a little more peace of mind with AirTag.
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