While the busy summer travel season is over, don’t expect the craziness to drop. Planes and hotels are still overcrowded, and travelers face long lines, cancellations, crowds and many other travel nightmares. But perhaps the most frustrating thing is that your luggage is lost. You must somehow find your belongings in the custody of the airline and wait to be reunited – all while trying to enjoy the start of your long-awaited vacation. Lost luggage is one of the worst in terms of travel nightmares.
Honestly, I’m pretty good at losing things strategically — or rather, losing things with style. (I hope you appreciate the Toy Story reference.) So when the 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 .
I’ve always been a big fan of Apple’s $29 item tracker, 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, making it the ultimate travel companion: access to the Find My network and Precision Find technology.
Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration ruled that AirTags are allowed in your luggage when, in fact, it does not pose a safety hazard. The devices contain only 0.1 grams of lithium, which is below the FAA limit.
“Luggage tracking devices powered by lithium metal batteries with a lithium content of 0.3 grams or less may be used in checked luggage,” the FAA said in a statement. “Apple AirTags meet this threshold; other luggage tracking devices may not meeting.”
Now that the FAA has ruled allowing the use of AirTags in your luggage, you may be wondering what makes them so special? Let us explain why.
The ultimate travel companion
Apple AirTag is the perfect tool for your next trip. Its simplicity, functionality and size will ensure you never forget your bag on the go. Your luggage is well on your way, giving you peace of mind and value for money.
The most important thing about AirTag is that it runs on Apple’s Find My network. This is the same network that provides Find My functionality for all Apple devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, AirPods, and Mac. It’s a tool that makes it easy and accurate to track where your device is, and even plays tones for easy localization.
The sheer size of the web also gives project trackers an edge. The Find My network consists of over a billion connected devices. So if you’re walking around the airport and you have an AirTag in your luggage, you can ping it and pinpoint yours on a map from the devices that make up that network. In our tests, it was more reliable and faster than competing Tile trackers.
Now, in very dense areas like airports – like Newark Liberty International (EWR) or New York JFK (JFK) – there are so many devices around that allow your AirTag to update your location frequently, enabling more accurate location tracking . The opposite is true for rural New Jersey and New York City. The more devices your AirTag can access, the more accurate and up-to-date your AirTag’s location will be.
Yes, you need an iPhone to use AirTag. You can set it up by holding it close to your iPhone and using the on-screen prompts to name it 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 AirTag.
Currently, you will be notified if your iPhone finds an unregistered AirTag near you, and if your AirTag is not registered when you leave. Apple is working to speed up these notifications. With Pinpoint Find, Apple will find unwanted or unregistered AirTags near you. Apple has also released a Tracker Detection app on Android’s Play Store that can be used to find AirTags that may not have an iPhone around you. When setting up AirTags, Apple will also make it clearer that there are some negative use cases and how to report them to authorities.
During my initial test 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 inner pocket of my suitcase to say goodbye while checking my luggage. I also have a leather loop accessory on my backpack.
In the Find My app on the iPhone, I can select “Jake’s Luggage” and view it on the map. I can see where my luggage is in real time – still in front of Newark Airport. While there was no line of sight on my luggage, I did feel at ease as it was on its way to meet me at my final destination.
Sure enough, when I checked at the gate later, the luggage was closer to the plane. As I boarded and rocked a pair of AirPods Max in my seat, I could see the luggage safely under me and a little further back in the plane’s cargo hold – it seemed my seat was bigger than my suitcase better. While airplane mode is required on an airplane, I can see the luggage AirTag updating in real time even as we fly over the US East Coast.
At the end of the day, the AirTag gives me a lot more peace of mind during my flight than I’ve gotten on previous trips. The $29 AirTag addition has effectively relieved my stress. When it’s time to get off the plane and go 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 get the gist of my bag on the ground.
While I wish the carousel was cluttered enough to use exact find, I could spot my red Away bag right away. Precision Finding uses Augmented Reality (AR) to give you larger directional arrows and distances to find your AirTag on iPhone 11 or later. It’s awesome, and a game-changer for item trackers, delivering such pinpoint accuracy.
If you want to supercharge your AirTag as the ultimate travel companion, it’s worth checking if your airline offers any luggage tracking services of its own. For example, Delta will keep an eye on your luggage and update your information through its app for Android or iOS. In it, you can keep track of bags attached to your itinerary as they are scanned at every part of the journey, through the airport and on board.
From dropping off your bag at check-in, to loading it onto the plane, to the baggage claim carousel, AirTag combined with airline baggage tracking apps feels like a superpower.
A failure for 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 need accessories that are especially travel-friendly.
If you have pockets or a safe place to tuck the AirTag into 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 ring accessory. We have a huge collection of AirTag accessories from lanyards to key chains, and even some that you can customize.
One of our favorites is the Belkin Secure AirTag Holder, which physically grips the AirTag and ensures it doesn’t come off. It’ll cost you about $12.99, which is a lot less than Apple’s leather keychains or leather rings.
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 you don’t misplace it.
While I haven’t lost a bag with an AirTag, I’ve used it on a few trips and use one on my keys a day. If you’re good at losing things in style or have a habit of misplacing them – and have an iPhone – the AirTag makes a lot of sense. If you’re doing a final packing check before your vacation trip, it’s worth spending a little more and getting an AirTag for your peace of mind.
If you’re going to see family, if you want to give a gift, you can buy four AirTags for $99. If not, get 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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