The Best Luggage Trackers for Locating Lost Travel Bags
You’ve stumbled off your red-eye over to baggage claim, where you’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting, until your stomach starts to sink as you realize there’s no more luggage left on the belt and yet your bag is nowhere to be found. Rather than surrendering your suitcase to the mysteries of the system, why not pull out your phone and find out where it is?
According to the SITA 2018 baggage report, airline luggage tracking is improving. 2017 had the lowest level of luggage mishandling recorded, with only about six bags mishandled per 1,000 passengers. But that may be small consolation if you were one of those six.
“Luggage trackers can help travelers — especially those who travel frequently or those with itineraries that include a layover or have tight connections. Horror stories involving lost luggage are all too common these days — especially around the holidays — and can leave those on the receiving end of misfortune feeling frustrated, powerless, and infuriated,” said Travel Channel host Oneika Raymond. “And they relieve [airlines] of some liability when luggage goes missing. The ability to keep tabs on your bags is advantageous for everyone.”
Raymond once lost her luggage on a tight layover and didn’t have it returned for more than 48 hours, with $25 of compensation from the airline and some last-minute new clothes to show for it. If you’d prefer to keep matters in your own hands, that’s where luggage trackers come in. Like that sneaky bug under the car seat in a spy movie, these small devices usually work by transmitting their GPS or GSM location to a server that communicates it to you, usually via a mobile app. GPS trackers use satellite data for their location, while GSM trackers use mobile towers.
Some devices require a subscription or monthly fee for use, so make sure to check the terms of your model so that you don’t get caught without the ability to actually use it on the ground.
This popular tracker uses GSM-GPRS technology and automatically turns on once your plane is stopped. You can purchase a one-year, six-month, or one-month service plan to go along with it.
To buy: bedbathandbeyond.com, $70
This Bluetooth-only tracker doesn’t have the range of a GPS/GSM device, but it’s another internet favorite and the personal pick of Charell Star, technology trends reporter at Business News Daily. “More than anything, luggage trackers give travelers peace of mind,” Star said. “When I'm sightseeing, I'll move my tracker to my backpack or even attach it to my umbrella. It's nice to know I have a chance of finding my items if they go missing.” The Tile works by pinging nearby Tile users who can then report location, and when you aren’t traveling, you use it to find your phone, keys, or other frequently lost items.
To buy: amazon.com, $20
Smart Unit Waldo
Frances Geoghegan, Managing Director of Healing Holidays, uses this GSM tracker that self-activates when the plane lands at your destination. It connects automatically to your phone so you’ll know when your luggage has arrived and will also alert you from up to 30 yards away if someone has picked up or opened your bag.
To buy: amazon.com, $63
Louis Vuitton Echo
If you’ve already splurged on Louis Vuitton luggage, you may want to add this deluxe tracker to the equation. Joshua Hensel of Jets.com frequently sees this tracker on his clients’ luggage. “Many of our clients [say] that when traveling on commercial flights, they never put valuables in bags they check-in. They always keep them in their carry-on luggage,” he said. “So, imagine if the valuable item is the luggage itself.”
To buy: louisvuitton.com, $370
Prefer to put your faith in the kindness of strangers? The DynoTag is more of an advanced luggage tag than a full-fledged tracker, but it has a unique QR code on every tag and doesn’t require a subscription. If someone scans your tag, you’ll receive a notification email with location data and that info is added to your account to review.
To buy: amazon.com, $18