An actually useful use for AirTags

Apple’s AirTags easily became my favorite travel accessory. When they were release in 2021, I immediatly bought a four pack and dropped one in each of my luggage and quickly forgot about them. I’m mostly a leisure traveller and overall, I’ve luckily been treated very well by airlines and so has my luggage, it usaully made it to where I was going. However, every time there was a problem with my luggage an AirTag has assisted me in recovering my luggage.

Once when flying from Dubai to Riyadh through Bahrain International Airport, with a tight connection, I had to run from one gate to the other to catch my next flight. Knowing it was a tight connection, I chose not to check my bag before flying. However on the jetbridge as I was boarding, the agent told me that I would be forced to check my bag. After taking off and finally landing in Riyadh, the first thing I did was check Find My to see if my bags made it from Bahrain. Sure enough, the airline decided to not load my bags and kept them in Bahrain. After filing a claim for my lost baggage, the airline told me that I would be contacted when my bags finally flew and joined me in Riyadh. That call never came, the only way I found out that my bags made it to Riyadh was Find My and my AirTags. I’ve found myself just going to the airport and requesting my bags while assuring them that they’re in the airport.

Recalling another similar situation, this time with my partner flying to Los Angeles through Paris for a wedding, again with a tight connection. Her bags never made it, this time it was a bit more critical as most of her wardrobe will not make it for the rehearsal. After filing a claim with the airline, being issued a claim number, and being told there is an online portal where you can track the recovery of her bags, which sucks. She was told to await a call. In the morning, Find My reported the luggage being in LAX, and after waiting for a few hours for a call or email from the airline, which never came, we nearly set out for the airport before checking Find My again and it reporting the luggage was at our hotel. Apparently the airline delivered it, without any notification what so ever. AirTags saved us an Uber trip to the airport in Los Angeles rush hour.

The entire process of recovering lost luggage from an airline feels like an after thought. You end up in a small room near arrivals full of lost luggage, which only serves to further demonstrate the failure of the airline at handling luggage. Nothing is more defeating then standing in a room full of other people’s lost luggage while you’re trying to file a claim to recover yours. You’re asked to provide descriptions of your bags. You’re issued generic claim numbers that are only trackable through an archaic system for baggage handling, half the time it’s not functioning, the other half it’s slow to update. Airlines are slow to upgrade, from planes to checking counters, but nothing feels outdated more than the lost luggage recovery process. The airline treats lost luggage recovery as a chore, and it shows.

In short, AirTags gives you a bit of agency back while being herded around like cattle into various metal tubes, being subjected to radiation and horrendous air quality. Instead of feeling completely powerless in the lost baggage claim line waiting to file a claim you can feel a bit more empowered knowing that for once you have a bit more information than the overworked airline employee, who is on their fourth week of sixteen hour shifts and for once you’re not completely in the dark. AirTags give you a pretty refreshing sense of realtime tracking / feedback. They make me feel better, and that’s alone is worth $30.