It's Time To Start Flying With An AirTag In Your Checked Bag
Several years ago, I had to go through the hassle of trying to hunt down lost luggage after flying from Denver to Seattle. The airline (or airport, I’m still not sure who to blame) lost a significant amount of ski wear, dress wear (I was interviewing at colleges at the time), and other general clothing. After several weeks of trying to find the bag, the airline just mailed me a check to buy new things. I was never seeing that bag again. Ever since then, checking anything has created a lot of unnecessary stress. Bringing only carry-on luggage can alleviate those concerns, but sometimes you just can’t fit everything in the overhead compartments.
Ski trips often have that downside. I don’t know about you, but I like to rent as little gear as possible when traveling. Demoing skis can definitely be a fun time, and poles are easy to switch up without noticing too much of a difference, but I like my helmet, I like my goggles, and I especially like my ski boots. As a result, I’m usually forced to check at least one bag (often times two, if I’m traveling with my skis) filled with some decently expensive gear.
This year, while traveling from Denver to Idaho, I decided to try something new to reduce a bit of travel stress. I’ve seen several people on the internet point out the benefit of traveling with an Apple AirTag in their luggage over the past few months, so, rather than just handing my bag over and trusting that the airline would actually take care of it, I picked up one of the little $30 devices and slipped it inside my duffel.
If you’ve used Apple’s Find My network to track AirPods or any other Apple device, there’s a good chance you’d already be familiar with how the AirTag works. The AirTag sends out a bluetooth signal that, when connected to your iPhone, allows you to track the device on a local level. This means notifying you that you’re a certain distance away from the object, allowing you to ping the device, and alerting you when it’s left your phone’s bluetooth range. While flying, you might be able to see that your luggage made it on the plane (assuming the bags are close enough), but, if the luggage is lost, these functions won’t be very helpful.
That’s where the AirTag’s Lost Mode comes in. When you mark your device as lost, it can be detected by any other Apple device in the Find My network, sending the object’s location securely to your phone through 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 across the world today, I’m pretty confident that at least one employee at the airport will walk by your lost luggage, telling you exactly where it’s at.
According to CNN, the FAA has ruled that AirTags are permitted in checked luggage, as they sit below the FAA’s limit of 0.3 grams of lithium per device. Airlines, however, may not be super happy with AirTags in checked bags.
Back in October of 2022, there were some hints that airlines may begin banning AirTags, but that never came to fruition. Just last month, however, one couple used their AirTags to find that their missing luggage had been donated to charity on behalf of Air Canada (without their permission, of course). If the devices continued to be used in travel, I’m willing to bet a lot more questionable activities will be exposed. But, for now, you can at least use AirTags to feel a bit more confident while traveling.
Unfortunately for you readers, I don’t have an exciting story to tell about hunting down my lost luggage with the help of my AirTag. My flight was very smooth in both directions and, as I returned home to Denver, my Patagonia duffel was the first bag to appear on the carousel. Nothing had gone missing and nothing was out of place.
I can tell you, however, that the AirTag helped a lot to calm my traveling nerves, and I can tell you that, had something gone missing, I would have been a lot happier telling the airline exactly where it is, forcing them to retrieve it, rather than waiting several months just to receive a check in the mail. Given that the AirTag costs just $30, and given that I can use it for my wallet or keys while not traveling, if you already use an iPhone, I’d say it’s well worth it to pick one up and toss it in your luggage.
Featured Image Credit: Daniel Romero on Unsplash