The holiday travel boom is in full swing. As parts of the country brace for potential disruption, some travelers are trying to beat the weather and get to their destinations as quickly as possible. Airplanes and hotels are generally full, and travelers face long queues, canceled flights, crowds and many other travel nightmares. But perhaps most frustrating of all is when your luggage is lost. You have to somehow find your belongings in the care of the airline and wait to be reunited – all the while trying to enjoy the start of your long-awaited vacation or the time it takes to get home for the holidays. As far as travel nightmares go, losing luggage is one of the worst.
Honestly, I’m pretty good at dropping things strategically — or rather, dropping things with style. (I hope you appreciate the “Toy Story” reference.) So when a product comes out, it’s the perfect way to keep track of my belongings – especially when traveling – and I add it to my travel bag middle.
I’ve always been a big fan of Apple’s $29 item tracker, called the AirTag. The long-rumored AirTag product finally launched last spring, and while it’s not the first item tracker to exist, it has two key features that set it apart and make it the ultimate travel companion: access to the Find My network and Precision Look for technology.
The US Federal Aviation Administration has stipulated that AirTags are allowed in luggage. In fact, there is no security risk. These devices contain only 0.1 gram of lithium, which is below the FAA limit.
“Baggage tracking devices powered by lithium metal batteries with a lithium content of 0.3 grams or less may be used in checked bags,” the FAA said in a statement. “Apple AirTags meet this threshold; other bag tracking devices may not.” meeting.”
However, you may be wondering what makes them so special? Let’s explain why.
The Ultimate Travel Companion
Apple AirTags are the perfect thing to take with you on your next trip. Its simplicity, functionality and size will ensure you never forget your bag while on the go. The peace of mind your luggage brings while traveling is worth every penny.
The most important thing about AirTag is that it runs on Apple’s Find My network. The network provides Find My for all Apple devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, AirPods, and Mac. It’s a tool that easily and accurately tracks your device’s location, and even plays a sound for easy location.
It’s also the sheer size of the web that gives item trackers an advantage. The Find My network consists of over 1 billion connected devices. So if you’re walking around an airport and you have an AirTag in your luggage, it can be pinged by the devices that make up that network and pinpoint your location on a map. In our tests, it was more reliable and updated faster than competing Tile trackers.
Now, in a densely populated area like an airport—such as Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) or New York’s JFK Airport (JFK)—there are so many devices around that your AirTag’s location is updated frequently, making it more accurate location tracking. Rural New Jersey is the exact opposite of New York City. The more devices your AirTag can reach, the more accurate and up-to-date your AirTag’s location will be.
Yes, you need an iPhone to use AirTags. You set it up by holding it close to your iPhone and using the on-screen prompts to give it a name and tie it to your Apple ID. Now, from a privacy standpoint, Apple has been releasing updates to address common issues with Smart Trackers as well as some of the larger tracking issues with AirTags.
Currently, you’ll get a notification if your iPhone finds an unregistered AirTag near you, as well as if you walk away without a registered AirTag. Apple is working to speed up these notifications. With Pinpoint Find, Apple can find unwanted or unregistered AirTags near you. Apple has also released a Tracker Detection app in the Play Store for Android that can be used to find AirTags that might be around you without an iPhone. Apple will also make it more obvious when setting up AirTags that there are some negative use cases and how to report them to the authorities.
During my initial testing of the AirTag, I flew from Newark to Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), and it was a great test. I put an AirTag in the inside pocket of my suitcase and say goodbye when I check my luggage. I also have a leather loop accessory on my backpack.
In the Find My app on my iPhone, I can select “Jake’s Luggage” and view it on a map. I can see where my luggage is in real time – still in front of the Newark airport. Although I didn’t see my luggage, I did feel relieved that it was on its way to pick me up at my final destination.
Sure enough, when I checked in at the gate later, the luggage was closer to the plane. When I board a plane and rock a pair of AirPods Max in my seat, I can see my luggage safely under me and further back in the cargo hold of the plane – looks like my seat is better than my suitcase . Although airplane mode is required on the plane, I was able to see the luggage AirTag update in real time even as we flew over the East Coast of the US.
At the end of the day, what AirTags give me is peace of mind during the flight, which is much more than I have ever had in previous travels. The $29 AirTag add-on effectively relieved my stress. When it’s time to get off the plane and head to baggage claim via PBI, I keep an eye on my bags in the Find My app. Updates were a bit slow as I meandered through a very quiet terminal, but I could at least make out my pack was on the ground.
While I wish the carousel had been cluttered enough to use Precision Finding, I could find my red Away bag in no time. Precision Finding uses Augmented Reality (AR) to give you a large directional arrow and distance to find your AirTag on iPhone 11 or later. It’s awesome and a game changer for item trackers that can deliver such pinpoint accuracy.
If you want AirTags to be the ultimate travel companion, it’s worth checking to see if your airline offers its own luggage tracking service. For example, Delta Air Lines keeps an eye on your bag and updates your information through its Android or iOS apps. In it, you can keep track of the bags attached to your itinerary as they are scanned and passed through the airport and onto the plane during each part of the journey.
From dropping bags off at check-in, to loading them onto the plane, and onto the baggage carousel, AirTags feel like a superpower when combined with an airline’s luggage tracking app.
A failure of AirTag? There’s no built-in key ring hole like the Chipolo or Tile trackers, which is a downside. Remember, when you’re spending $29 on a tracker, you’re going to want one that’s especially travel-friendly.
If you have a pocket or a safe place to tuck your AirTags in your luggage, you don’t necessarily need an extra accessory. But considering it’ll be attached to your luggage, we think it’s worth investing in a keychain or loop accessory. We’ve got a huge collection of AirTag accessories, from lanyards to key chains, and even some that you can customize.
One of our favorite products is the Belkin Secure AirTag Holder, which physically clips the AirTag and ensures it won’t fall out. At around $13 before discount, it’s much cheaper than Apple’s leather key fob or leather ring.
The perfect AirTag accessory
If you’re traveling with an AirTag, you don’t want to leave it in your luggage. Consider this secure AirTag holder and lock it to your bag so it doesn’t get misplaced.
While I haven’t lost luggage with AirTags on it, I’ve used it for several trips and use one on my keys every day. If you’re good at losing things of style, or have a habit of misplacing them — and you have an iPhone — AirTags make sense. If you’re doing a final packing check before your holiday trip, it’s worth spending the extra money on an AirTag just for the peace of mind.
If you’re going to meet family, you can get four AirTags for $99 if you want to gift them. If not, grab one for yourself for $29.
AirTags for the Whole Family
If you want to make sure the whole family can keep track of their luggage this holiday travel season, consider a four-pack of AirTags.
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