How the Apple AirTag Can Help Track Down Your Missing Luggage

Lost your bag? TikTok has the perfect hack. 
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Summer air travel is back in full swing—and so are the headaches that come with it. At least 30,000 flights have been canceled since Memorial Day weekend, airlines are begging people to get off of overcrowded planes, and worst of all, the amount of lost luggage is surging, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. If you check a bag, there’s simply no guarantee that your stuff will end up in the same place you do, or that you’ll ever be able to recover it.

But TikTok has already found a workaround: Apple AirTags. In video after video, travelers use the tiny trackers to keep tabs on their luggage, even if it’s in an entirely different place than they are. If you’re planning on catching any flights this summer, it’s worth investing in a smart tag of your own. Here’s everything you need to know about putting trackers like AirTags in your luggage.

How do AirTags work?

Apple AirTags are coin-sized devices that allow you to track pretty much anything from your iPhone’s Find My app. They’re small enough to slip inside pockets, interior pouches, and wallets, and you can also attach them to keys and lanyards using optional rings and loops.  

If you lose something with an AirTag attached to it in your immediate vicinity, you can trigger a built-in speaker from your iPhone. Your app will also guide you to the gadget’s precise location if you’re within its roughly 800-foot range. When your AirTag is farther away—whether it’s at baggage claim or in another country entirely—you’ll still be able to see its location if it’s near anyone else with an iPhone in the Find My network. When other devices aren’t around, you’ll see the tracker’s last known location. From there, you can use that information to recover your stuff; success stories of travelers tracking down their lost bags have already started flooding in. (Some advocates have raised concerns about AirTags being used to stalk people. Thankfully, Apple will alert you if someone else’s AirTag seems to be attached to you.)

All of this is possible thanks to an encrypted Bluetooth signal that is detected by nearby Apple devices. Although millions of devices can help you locate your luggage, only you can access the Bluetooth information—your data is protected from prying eyes. No need to worry about your device dying on you, either, since the battery is designed to last more than a year. Oh, and you can buy AirTags pretty much anywhere you love to shop, including Hermès.

Apple AirTags (4-Pack)

Apple AirTags (4-Pack)

Are there any alternatives to AirTags?

If you don’t have an iPhone or simply prefer to use another tracking device, you’re in luck. Plenty of brands have released their own Bluetooth trackers, and you might even like them more than Apple’s take. Like AirTags, they can all be pinpointed within a certain range; outside of that range, you’ll have to rely on people walking by and inadvertently picking up your tracker’s signal.

Perhaps the most popular alternatives are from Tile, which makes item locators of all shapes and sizes. Most models have a 250-foot range and can be easily slipped inside your bag’s pockets or lining. There’s even a model shaped like a credit card, allowing you to store it in your luggage tag or wallet. And they have built-in speakers that’ll chime when you press a button. Only people whose phones are running the Tile app (which is available for both Android and Apple OS’s) can sense the tags, however.

Another great option for Galaxy smartphone users is Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTag, which is pretty much a one-to-one analog for Apple’s AirTag. Outside of the device’s 390-foot range, anyone with a newer-model Galaxy phone will help you track down your lost luggage via Bluetooth. And the SmartTag+ tracker even has an AR feature that uses your camera to guide you to your stuff when you’re in range—a feature Apple has yet to release.

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag+