Putting one of these in your bag when you travel might just be the smartest move you make if you want to avoid turning your vacation or work trip into a wild goose chase. There are plenty of options out there, but the star of most of these stories is the AirTag (we’ll explain why shortly), though alternatives like Tile and Samsung’s SmartTag also deserve a mention.
So, why do AirTags steal the spotlight in these stories? Well, it’s simple. Right now, they are the gold standard in the world of luggage trackers, and here is why: When you lose a bag with an AirTag tucked inside, this clever little device taps into Apple’s vast global network to find its way home.
This means any iPhone user who walks by your missing bag inadvertently becomes your hero by helping to track it down. Other tracker brands, on the other hand, rely on users within their specific network. So, if your bag has a Tile, but no one else with a Tile is nearby, your bag remains MIA. The closest runner-up to AirTags so far is Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTag.
Now, let’s dive into five of the most intriguing stories where a tracking device saved someone’s luggage.
Finding more than just lost luggage – nabbing a thief with an AirTag
Last year, a passenger flew with Delta/Air France into Destin-Fort Walton Beach, but her luggage never showed up at the carousel, as The New York Times reports. Her bag contained more than just clothes and makeup; it held items worth $1,648. But that wasn’t the end of the story, as an AirTag was along for the ride. Two weeks after her luggage vanished, she received a notification that the AirTag had sprung to life. Thanks to the location data it shared, the police tracked down an airport worker. This worker was later accused of stealing more than $16,000 in goods from passengers’ luggage. It turns out that sometimes, a missing bag isn’t just lost – it’s been stolen, unless you’ve got a tracker.
A honeymoon to remember – lost luggage donated to charity by Air Canada
Ah, the honeymoon – a time for romance and, sometimes, airline mix-ups. A Canadian couple experienced a memorable one when Air Canada lost their luggage (via PCMag). But here’s the kicker: the airline, after two months of claiming the bag was MIA, decided to donate it to charity. Good-hearted, but not quite what the couple had in mind.
Thankfully, the couple had an AirTag in the suitcase. The AirTag showed that their bag was at a public storage facility just outside Toronto. After receiving a $2,300 payout (reportedly the maximum for lost luggage), the couple headed to Toronto Pearson Airport. There, they asked the airport manager for help. Surprisingly, he had no clue about the storage facility.
It took the intervention of the police, who unlocked the storage spot, to unveil a mountain of luggage stacked from floor to ceiling. Finally, the couple’s luggage was rescued. It took Air Canada appointing a handler to investigate, sifting through 1,200 bags in the storage facility, and 24 hours to find it.
A PowerPoint presentation in search of lost luggage
Ever had your suitcase pull a vanishing act at an airport? Jai Rawat sure did on his journey from London to San Francisco (via CNN). Virgin Atlantic promised to reunite him with his bag, but after nine long days, his AirTag was still partying at Heathrow. Frustrated by the airline’s inability to rescue his bag despite clear AirTag breadcrumbs, Rawat hatched a plan. After 34 days of waiting, he unveiled a six-page PowerPoint masterpiece titled “Helpful Hints to Find My Suitcase.” This digital quest featured bag descriptions, maps, satellite snapshots, Google Streetview images, and even an annotated Heathrow Terminal 4 blueprint, revealing the exact hideout of his bag.
Image Credit–Jai Rawat
It took him some serious internet sleuthing, but three days later, victory was his as the prodigal bag returned home, albeit with a few missing treasures, for which he was refunded.
Two months at an airport with an Airtag showing the exact location
Sarah Waite embarked on a trip to Greece with a suitcase full of belongings and an AirTag to keep them safe – a wise move, as her luggage vanished. DailyMail reports that a week after landing in Athens from Paris, she received a notification from her AirTag confirming her bag had left Paris and was finally in Athens. But when she went to retrieve it, Air France staff claimed they didn’t have it, despite the AirTag pinpointing its location at the airport.
For two long months, she knew her suitcase, which contained life-saving medications, was sitting at the Athens airport. Despite her AirTag shouting its location, it took a fight, a video rant, and some heated arguments before she finally got her luggage. It was a little worse for wear, with some items missing, but her life-saving medications were intact. Compensation? $600 for stuff worth over $1,200 and two months of airport drama.
AirTag’s wild ride: Dumpster to McDonald’s
Valerie Szybala’s bag went on a wild adventure after her United Airlines flight to Washington, D.C. As shared by Entrepreneur, it ended up in a residential apartment complex near a dumpster. When she reached out to United, their response was a classic “calm down” and claims that the bag was at a delivery center.
Image Credit–Valerie Szybala
Days later, her bag made pit stops at McDonald’s, back to the apartment complex, and eventually at a shopping center. In the end, Valerie had to take matters into her own hands, summoning a local news crew for assistance. She received a text message from someone claiming to be from a delivery company, and a quick phone call later, her luggage was back in her hands. But Valerie still suspected some fishy business. Tracking down lost luggage: sometimes a comedy, sometimes a thriller.