Over the past few trips, I’ve found an item tracker of some sort has saved my bacon, more often than not.
That could be a Tile or one of Apple’s AirTags. In Hamburg, it helped me find my keys when I accidentally packed them in my suitcase – or even find which belt a bag was sat on at O’Hare.
Both have strengths and weaknesses – I find Tiles to be a lot louder than AirTags, however, the Ultra-Wideband chip in the AirTag allows for precision finding.
Given that British Airways in the past has been less than… what’s the polite term… fast with their luggage delivery (or in the past, lost my bags for a few days), like a lot of people I put an Apple AirTag in my bag and simply forget about them.
Well, someone was forgetful when they travelled out to Chicago, the tags were a good 4,000 miles away. Which was wonderful for them sitting at home… not so wonderful for me, when I thought they were packed.
As such, I needed to get some AirTags. That’s easy in Chicago, as there are plenty of places that retain Apple products. I chose the small fruit stand on North Michigan Avenue, as it was the closest to where I was at that moment.
Fruit stand = Apple Store.
Once there it was a matter of exchanging currency for AirTags.
I got a four-pack – you can never have enough of the things (and I use them to track other luggage and items too).
Setting them up is simple enough – extract an AirTag from the box…
And pull the plastic out to activate. Once activated, if your iPhone/iPad is nearby, it will go through its activation sequence.
I could not fake this screenshot for love or money.
From here, you just need to give it a name and set up what it is.
Once it activates, you’ll get the important regulatory information that governs the use of the AirTag.
Because using an AirTag for bad things, like stalking or tracking people without consent, is not a good use of technology.
Read the T&Cs. Don’t be a nasty person when using them.
By me repeating these steps, I activated the two AirTags that would be travelling in my luggage. Normally, I would tape them in a position on the bag (a rather crass way of doing it, but it works), but in this case, they were slipped into my bags as loose items.
Not ideal – but better than nothing. And provided the luggage handling agents and TSA don’t get too inquisitive in the bags, they should make it home safely (providing BA delivered to baggage).
From there, I could track my luggage on my journey. This is within the “Find My” app on your iPhone/iPad, with the AirTags communicating their locations with notifications when your items get out of range of the phone.
And to put it simply, thanks to the way they work (using the FindMy network that detects and anonymously reports emitted Bluetooth signals), it’s easy to track items.
I won’t lie… that had me concerned for a bit.
There it is.
And we’re all on The Road to Nowhere.
There are downsides, however…
The first big downside is you must be in the Apple ecosystem to take advantage of them – and whilst I’m mostly an Apple operation, there are times when I reach for an Android or Windows-based devices.
And they’re also not visible using FindMy via iCloud.com – so good luck using them without a Mac/iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch.
Another downside (and if you travel with family or are tracking lots of things), you can only track 16 items per Apple ID.
And the final thing – the thing that drives me potty is the lack of an integrated loop on the tag.
Why is that such an important thing? Try attaching one to a keyring or something that has an integrated loop or hook, which has a clear circular outline.
Yeah. That isn’t going to work chief.
Of course, you could buy the official Apple loop keyring accessory.
Let me laugh at you as you do, as I head to eBay.
Any other options?
I’ve covered Tile before on the blog and I still love Tiles for their interoperability with different platforms and ease of use. Samsung has their GalaxyTag tracker too – which are compatible with Galaxy devices only (smartphones, tablets) with Android OS 8 (O OS) or higher.
Trackers help when Luggage Handlers don’t do their thing.
We’ve all had occasions when luggage hasn’t made it – be it to the right luggage belt or the right airport. And if you’re carrying important things (and with great respect – something of yours is of value to you – it doesn’t matter how much it costs), having a little security knowing where your item is in the world.
Whilst there have been some moans from aviation circles that these contain lithium batteries and must be contained, IACO has cleared them recently to be carried in hold luggage.
They’re part of my standard travel kit these days – having the reassurance of knowing where certain items are (baggage, wallet and keys) and being able to find them without too much of panic.
Just don’t use them for evil.
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