Airlines lost so much passenger luggage this summer that travel experts are advising people.
In fact, when you hand your luggage to airline staff, you may be separated from your carry-on for the entire journey (or longer). Many airlines are facing shortages of cabin crew and airport staff, including baggage handlers, leading to piles of luggage at airports around the world.
Airlines mishandled nearly 220,000 pieces of luggage in April, a year-on-year increase of 135%. according to to the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection.Flights to London Heathrow are so well supported that Fly to the US with no passengers on board.
Frequent flyers say they’ve come up with an efficient, high-tech way to keep track of checked bags in situations where airlines can’t: stuff them with Apple AirTags and other similar tracking devices.
“Luggage is lost on the left, right, and center, and airlines often not only lose luggage, they can’t tell you if it’s at origin, destination, or somewhere else,” says aviation analyst. From Apple April 2021 Since these devices, Alex Macheras has been using AirTags to track his belongings.
“It’s a small part of air travel that people can control when so many experiences like weather and delays are out of their control,” Macheras said. “Anything that gives you a sense of control can help you have a smoother experience.”
“The ground crew was amazed”
Not surprisingly, half the job of retrieving lost luggage is finding it. While airlines use baggage stickers with barcodes to track checked bags, the codes must be scanned and customers cannot access them.
“AirTags are great because you can track them yourself. You don’t need anyone to scan barcodes,” said Clint Henderson, editor of consumer travel resource The Points Guy.
Macheras said he gave the AirTag to a friend who was traveling with him across Europe, but when they reached baggage claim at their destination airport, his luggage was gone.
“The baggage counter insisted the bags were at the airport we arrived at, but we showed the ground staff that we could see the bags stuck in Paris,” Marchelas said.
This allows airlines to load luggage on to the next outgoing flight.
“The ground crew was amazed that we could tell the airline where the luggage was,” Macheras added. “We got the bag the next day and they assured us that if there was no AirTag in the bag, this wouldn’t have happened.”
How AirTags work
AirTags — small circular Bluetooth devices that can be placed on key chains and in pockets, purses or suitcases — are designed to help users track everything from wallets, keys and backpacks to pets and children.
Apple sells a single AirTag for $29, while a pack of four tags costs $99.
Users pair the tags with connected Apple devices such as iPhones for the ability to continuously track and locate lost items. The AirTag emits Bluetooth signals, which are read by nearby Apple devices to send you the AirTag’s location. Although these labels are designed for Apple products, there are also some apps that restrict the use of Android equipment.
Similar tracking devices are also gaining popularity. Competing products made by Tile, which is compatible with Apple and Android devices, can be taped or attached to personal items and paired with an app, and the company says more people are using the tags amid a surge in mishandled luggage .
In a more disturbing development, however,Keep an eye out for unsuspecting targets, for example, by placing wireless tags in the victim’s bag or inside the car’s gas tank.
When your bag is in Düsseldorf but you are not
The Points Guy’s Henderson points out that even if you could tell the airline where in the world your bag is, they probably don’t have the manpower to physically track it and send it to you.
“You can tell the airline, ‘My bag is stuck in Amsterdam and I can see it there,’ but they might say there’s no one to go and get it for you,” he said.
Henderson said one reader was so frustrated by the airline’s inability to put his luggage together that when AirTag found it in Dusseldorf, Germany, the passenger went there in person to retrieve it.
Frequent flyer Jassim Al Kuwari said he was separated from his luggage recently while travelling from Italy to Spain via Paris, France. His layover at Charles de Gaulle was so short – just 15 minutes – that he and his plane left without luggage.
“I went to the lost and found office to report my bag was missing, and Air France didn’t know where it was. Thanks to AirTags, I was able to tell them where my bag was, and I got my bag back,” Al Kuwari told CBS MoneyWatch.
Today, AirTags save Kuwari from having to wait around the luggage carousel, not knowing if his luggage will show up.
“Every time I get to my destination, I open the app and I can tell if my bag is there. If it’s not, I don’t waste time waiting for my bag, I just go and report it,” he said.
AirTags doesn’t work for everyone. Some users have complained that tracking is either delayed or inaccurate.
“All in all, they’re pretty solid,” Henderson said. “We haven’t heard stories of anyone not being able to find their luggage. I’m leaning towards them as an investment.”