Air travel has undoubtedly been challenging over the past year, with lost bags, delayed flights, and equipment outages. Although so many of us want to travel extensively after years of missed vacations, lost or delayed bags can definitely put a damper on the start of a family vacation.
Before our summer vacation to Portugal, I had read about the baggage issues plaguing European (and many American) airports. We spent a lot of time packing in the most optimal way possible (see our tips here), and I purchased four AirTags – one for each of our bags.
While AirTags can’t prevent your bags from being delayed or lost, they absolutely can help you realize they have been left behind, and can help you track their location along the way. I’m grateful we did purchase them because our bags were delayed in Portugal. Then they were delayed again on our flight from Boston to Orlando on Christmas day – when we were boarding a cruise the next day. We’ve got a lot of use out of them.
If you are planning a big trip where you’ll be checking bags (or even when you may have to check a carry-on), I definitely recommend considering AirTags if they are an option for you.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. A purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no cost to you. We purchased our own AirTags.
What are AirTags?
AirTags are a small device from Apple. They do not work with non-Apple phones, like Androids, so you’ll have to keep that in mind if you don’t use Apple devices. They also have a replaceable battery that lasts about a year, which is something you’ll have to keep an eye on when using them.
They work by pinging off all of the iPhones in the area using Bluetooth. It’s a secure process, and you can use your iPhone’s “Find My” functionality to track the devices. There’s also the option to request a sound to be played on the AirTag – especially helpful if you’ve lost something in your home or car, but less helpful for luggage.
How to Set Up AirTags
Setting up your AirTags is easy. You’ll want to decide which phone to connect them to. For our family, we bought four AirTags and one is set up for each of our phones.
This is helpful because we don’t always travel together, but you can also set them up on one person’s phone. It’s easy to rename them within the Find My app.
To set them up, pull off the plastic connection. Your phone should automatically identify the Apple AirTag, so you can set it up from there. You’ll choose what device the AirTag is on, but that’s always easily changed in the app.
How to Best Use AirTags To Track Your Luggage
Wondering how to use AirTags to track your checked bags? While the airline you fly may have bag tracking, it’s always good to have control of the monitoring right on your own device. After setting them up, your first option is choosing whether you want to put the AirTags in or out of your luggage. They are safer in the luggage, but the sound and tracking will be a little better outside the bag.
Once you check your bags, you can track them in real-time to see if they are moving. While you may not be able to do anything if the bags aren’t loaded onto your aircraft, you will have peace of mind if you see that they are loaded.
When you land and head to the baggage claim area, you’ll be able to search for your checked baggage. On our recent flight, we landed in Orlando and saw that our bags were still in Boston. We were able to immediately go to the lost luggage area and place a claim, rather than wait for all of the bags to come out. On our Portugal trip, many guests had lost luggage and we were at the very front of that line because we knew our bags were still in Paris.
At the lost luggage area in Orlando, the representative thought that perhaps our checked luggage had made it on the next flight, and was mid-air. However, once we told her that we had AirTags attached to each bag, we were able to confirm that they hadn’t yet made it on a flight.
The next day, we had hoped our bags had made it on the first flight out of Boston. I was able to check the bags and see that they had moved and were on a plane. Because we were getting on a cruise that afternoon, we went to baggage claim and were able to retrieve the bags right from the carousel.
In Portugal, our lost luggage situation was a bit direr, as there were rooms and rooms of lost luggage and they weren’t able to 100% identify that our bags were there. I showed the rep my phone screen confirming that the bags were there, and we pinged them to find the lost luggage.
There is also the option for your phone to notify you if you are separated from your item. I find that functionality to be a little annoying when traveling because my luggage is almost always left behind in a hotel. It’s very easy to toggle on and off as you need it.
Note that there have been some questions about whether or not these will continue to be allowed by airlines, so be sure to check with your airline for the latest information before flying.
Shopping for AirTags and Cases
AirTags can be purchased before you need them. Just be sure to keep that protective plastic cover on the battery until you are ready to use them. That will preserve the battery life.
They are sold individually or in sets of four. I’d also recommend getting an AirTag holder for each one so you don’t lose them. These can also be used as holders if you are keeping them outside your luggage.
AirTags are available for purchase on Amazon (individual or set of four). There are lots of case options. These are the ones that we have, but if you’d prefer something more luxurious, these have great reviews. There are also Disney-themed options if you are visiting a Disney Park or going on a Disney Cruise.
More Packing Tips Resources: Looking for more packing tips and recommendations? Here are all of our posts including packing lists, product recommendations, and ideas for specific trips.