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.