I thought I would never say this, but Apple AirTags are the best travel gadgets we’ve bought for cruising and travelling in 2023, and we will never travel again without them.
I’ve wondered how these innovative little gadgets worked as they tracked their luggage going to the aircaft and then from the plane to the baggage hall. Our friends have had them for a while and were constantly extolling the virtues of these clever little devices. Some would say I’m techy, and I would have to agree, but these things take technology to another level.
After all the travel disruption, airline cancellations, and baggage handler strikes in the summer of 2022, I’m now a member of this Air Tags Club!
This post reviews how these things work and how we use AirTags for travel to track our luggage.
Table of Contents
Nervous About Losing our Bags – Of course
I was always nervous about seeing my luggage again once it disappeared down the check-in conveyor. I always hoped to see it again at the destination airport, but you never know. Along with hundreds of other travellers, we would have no option but to stand and wait, hoping the next bag up the chute was yours. Now that has all changed with the arrival of Apple Air Tags.
These tiny devices are relatively small location beacons about the size of a quarter or a £2 coin. You insert these into your luggage, and they send signals via Bluetooth detected by any nearby Apple devices. Your labelled AirTag will show up on a map showing exactly how far away it is. The device then sends the exact location of the AirTag to Apple’s iCloud, which you access on your mobile or tablet through the Find My app.
Apple AirTags Can Help Reduce the Stress of Travel
The spate of news stories and images of piled-up “lost” luggage in European airports scared us into thinking we could get away with carry-on luggage for our trip to Barbados and subsequent cruise. We pushed, shoved and squeezed, but there was no way we could pack everything we needed into two small carry-on bags. No Chance.
So if we were to take ‘proper’ suitcases, we should at least be able to track where they are. So we added an AirTag to each piece of luggage.
As soon as we checked in at Heathrow, we could see where our bags were and track them as they moved towards to aircraft. Simply brilliant.
Allowing us to “see” our bags as we travelled gave us great peace of mind and reduced the stress of travelling.
Upon landing, we walked through Barbados airport, confident because our AirTags indicated that our luggage would arrive promptly on the carousel. And it did!
Related: How to Pack for a Cruise
The Apple AirTags gave us peace of mind that we don’t usually have with our luggage. This is particularly true at the moment as the airlines work through their flight and staffing issues.
How AirTags Work
Part of Apple’s Find My Network AirTags allows you to track your devices and view their location on your phone. You can also share their locations with family members.
According to Apple’s website, AirTags sends a secure Bluetooth signal that nearby devices can detect on the Apple Find My network. The devices then send the AirTag’s exact location to Apple’s iCloud, and the tag is then visible on a map on the Find My app.
“The whole process is encrypted and completely anonymous to protect your privacy,” Apple’s website reads. “And it’s efficient, so there’s no need to worry about battery life or data usage.”
There are also speakers on AirTags that play a locating sound if you lose them. Thier small size and reliability is another bonus and the battery is designed to last about a year before it needs replacing, and it is a simple user DIY task.
AirTags are small
This is where we attach our AirTags
Placing AirTag’s in Your Luggage
Setting up an Airtag is a simple process and takes just a few minutes. All you do is place it near an iPhone and then go through a quick on-screen setup process.
To make them easy to locate, especially if you have several AirTags, you can customize their names and even allocate an emoji to each piece of luggage.
With the AirTag ready to go, you must decide where to place the tracker.
A vast number of AirTag cases and holders are available from Apple and various other accessory manufacturers.
There are even AirTag holders that can also act as luggage tags. The one advantage of attaching the AirTag to the outside of your bag is that you can hear the tracker’s built-speaker noise which you can activate from the Find My app. But then you risk the AirTag tearing off the bag during the transfer process.
A more thoughtful place for an AirTag is inside your bag. While you likely won’t hear any noise when locating the bag, you won’t have to worry about it getting damaged. It can still easily be tracked even under a mound of clothes.
You can purchase a single AirTag for $29. To save a bit of money, or if you want to track more than a single bag, a four-pack is $99.
Tips for Using Apple AirTags
Are you sold yet? You might like these additional tips for using Apple AirTags.
- Label and Icon Your AirTags Properly
For our flights and cruise, we travelled with four AirTags, three in our main checked-in luggage and one in our hand luggage. Having different names for them, along with icons, meant it was easy to track each piece separately.
- Enable and Disable Notifications. If you turn this feature on, you will receive alerts when you leave your room without the item. Once you’re on your ship and have safely stashed your unpacked luggage under the bed, you should turn the notifications off if you find them annoying.
- Use the Precision Finding Feature. Within the Find My app, there are several ways to track your bag in case it does get lost. One of them is “Find Nearby,” which comes with a GPS map that will help direct you to the bag (although if you’re in an airport, you’ll probably not walk outside to collect it).
- Check the Batteries. The Apple AirTag battery should last about a year. Always make sure to have a spare CR2032 coin cell battery available. These are widely available at supermarkets, DIY stores and online retailers. Note, make sure you avoid any cell with a bitterant coating. Apple suggests those might not work correctly with the AirTag.
Once you start using AirTags for your luggage, you might consider using them for other items you risk losing. So many Airtag Accessories are available now, including wallets that hold an AirTag, keychains and even dog collars, so you can always have tabs on your four-legged friend.
We understand that not everyone has an Apple iPhone or operates within the Apple ecosystem. The good news is that there are some other brilliant luggage tracking devices to consider:
The Samsung SmartTag is the best tracker for Samsung users and is an AirTag equivalent for people with Galaxy phones. Galaxy has a Find Network similar to the Apple system and gives step-by-step directions on finding your item.
We had a Tile tracking device on our key chain long before Apple came out with AirTags, and this BlueTooth device still works well. The battery lasts three years, much longer than the Apple AirTags. We don’t like that you need a subscription to Tile Premium to use features like Smart Alert, which are standard on Apple AirTags.
While AirTagging your luggage won’t prevent an airline from misplacing it, this nifty little piece of technology may at least help expedite its return. There are so many online stories where folks can track their luggage and let the airline know where it is!!
That peace of mind has convinced us never to travel without AirTags with our luggage — checked-in or carry-on — ever again. Our new Apple suitcase trackers are a boon.
Caution: Always check with your Airline if trackers are permitted in hold baggage. “Luggage tracking devices powered by lithium metal cells that have 0.3 grams or less of lithium can be used on checked baggage,” the FAA said in a statement published by The Points Guy. “Apple AirTags meet this threshold; other luggage tracking devices may not.”
Last update on 2023-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API