It’s time to fly with an AirTag in your checked baggage

Photo by Phil Mosley on Unsplash

A few years ago I had to go through the hassle of tracking down lost luggage after flying from Denver to Seattle. The airline (or the airport, I’m still not sure who is responsible) lost a significant amount of ski wear, evening wear (I was interviewing at colleges at the time), and other general clothing. After several weeks of trying to locate the bag, the airline simply mailed me a check to buy new stuff. I never saw that bag again. Since then, the review has caused a lot of unnecessary stress. Carrying only carry-on luggage can allay those concerns, but sometimes everything just doesn’t fit in the overhead bins.

Ski trips often have this disadvantage. I don’t know about you, but I want to rent as little gear as possible when traveling. Dismantling skis can definitely be a fun time and poles are easy to swap out without noticing too much of a difference, but I like my helmet, I like my goggles and I like it particularly like my ski boots. As a result, I’m usually forced to check in at least one bag (often two when traveling with my skis) of reasonably expensive gear.

Traveling from Denver to Idaho this year, I decided to try something new to relieve some travel stress. I’ve seen several people online over the past few months pointing out the benefits of traveling with an Apple AirTag, so I took one of the small $30 devices and slipped it into my travel bag.

Credit: apple

If you’ve used Apple’s Find My network to track AirPods or other Apple devices, you’re probably already familiar with how the AirTag works. The AirTag emits a Bluetooth signal that allows you to track the device locally when connected to your iPhone. This means that you will be notified that you are within a certain distance of the object, so you can ping the device and you will be notified if it goes out of Bluetooth range of your phone. While you’re flying you might be able to see that your luggage made it onto the plane (provided the bags are close enough), but if the luggage gets lost these features aren’t very helpful.

This is where the AirTag’s Lost Mode comes into play. Marking your device as lost allows any other Apple device on the Find My network to discover it and securely send the item’s location to your phone via iCloud. Of course, that means an Apple device has to be close enough to connect to the tag, but with 1.5 billion iPhones in use around the world today, I’m pretty confident that at least one employee at the airport will be at your lost luggage will pass, tell you Exactly where it is.

AirTag tracks on my iPhone, safe with me

According to CNN, the FAA has ruled that AirTags are allowed in checked baggage because they are below the FAA limit of 0.3 grams of lithium per device. However, airlines may not Super happy with AirTags in checked baggage.

There was some evidence as early as October 2022 that airlines might start banning AirTags, but that never materialized. However, just last month, a couple used their AirTags to discover that their missing luggage had been donated to charity on behalf of Air Canada (without their permission, of course). If the devices continue to be used while traveling, I’m willing to bet that many more questionable activities will be uncovered. But for now, you can at least use AirTags to feel a little more secure when you travel.

Unfortunately for you readers, I don’t have a compelling story to share about finding my lost luggage using my AirTag. My flight was very smooth both ways, and when I returned home to Denver, my Patagonia holdall was the first bag to appear on the carousel. Nothing was lost and nothing was out of place.

However, I can tell you that the AirTag really helped settle my traveling nerves and I can tell you that if something had been lost I would have been much happier telling the airline exactly where it was and they did forced to retrieve it instead of waiting several months just to get a check in the mail. Given that the AirTag is only $30 and I can use it for my wallet or keys when I’m not travelling, I’d say it’s worth grabbing one and tossing in your luggage, if you already use an iPhone.

Photo by Calle Macarone on Unsplash

Selected image source: Daniel Romero on Unsplash

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