Why AirTags is the ultimate travel companion

The summer travel season is in full force. Planes and hotels fill up, travelers face long lines, cancellations, huge crowds, and plenty of other travel nightmares. But perhaps the most frustrating thing is losing your luggage. You have to somehow track down your belongings that were sponsored by the airline and then wait to be reunited – all while trying to enjoy the start of your long-awaited vacation. In terms of travel nightmares, lost baggage is one of the worst.

To be honest up front, I’m great at losing things strategically — or rather, losing things elegantly. (I hope you appreciate the “Toy Story” sign.) So when an item comes along, it’s a perfect way to keep track of my belongings—especially when traveling—I add it to my suitcase.

I’ve been a huge fan of Apple’s $29 item tracker, called AirTag. The long-rumored AirTag finally launched last spring, and while it’s not the first item tracker out there, it has two key features that set it apart from the rest to make it the ultimate travel companion: access to Find My Network and Precision Find Technology.

But what makes it so special? Let’s explain why.

The perfect travel companion

Apple AirTag is the perfect tool for your next trip. Its simplicity, functionality and size will ensure that you never lose your bags on the go. The peace of mind your bags brought on your trip is well worth the reasonable price.

The most important thing to know about AirTag is that it works on Apple’s Find My network. This is the same network that supports Find My for all of your Apple devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, AirPods, and Mac. It’s a tool that makes it easy to track exactly where your device is and even plays a tune for easy locating.

It’s also the sheer size of the network that gives the item tracker a step forward. The Find My network consists of more than a billion connected devices. So, while you’re walking around an airport and there’s an AirTag in your baggage, you can be pressured by the devices that make up that network and identify your network on a map. In our testing, the update was more reliable and faster than competing tile trackers.

Now, in a very dense area like an airport – for example Newark Liberty International (EWR) or New York-Kennedy (JFK) – having multiple devices allows the location to be updated frequently for your AirTag, allowing for more accurate location tracking. The opposite can be said for a rural area of ​​New Jersey versus New York City. The more devices AirTag can access, the more accurate and up-to-date the AirTag will be.

And yes, you do need an iPhone to use AirTag. You can set it up by holding it close to your iPhone and using the onscreen prompts to name it and associate it with your Apple ID. Now, from a privacy standpoint, Apple is releasing updates to address common issues with smart trackers and some of the bigger stalking issues with AirTag.

For now, you will be notified if your iPhone finds an AirTag near you that is not registered, along with a notification if you leave without an AirTag registered for you. Apple is speeding up those notifications. With Precise Search, Apple will locate an unwanted or unregistered AirTag near you. Apple has also released the Tracker Detection app in the Play Store for Android, which can be used to find AirTags that might be around you without an iPhone. Apple will also explain more clearly when setting up the AirTag that there are some negative use cases and ways to report them to the authorities.

Jacob Kroll

During the initial testing of the AirTag, I flew from Newark to Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), and it was a pretty cool test. I put my AirTag in the inside pocket of my suitcase goodbye while I was checking luggage. I also had one in a leather loop accessory on my backpack.

In the Find My app on my iPhone, I was able to select “Jake’s Luggage” and display it on the map. I could see where my bags were in real time – I was still at the front of Newark Airport. And while I physically had no field of view over my luggage, I had peace of mind as he was on his way to meet me at my final destination.

And sure enough, when I checked in a little later while at the gate, the luggage was closer to the plane. By the time I got on the plane and was sitting in my seat wearing a pair of AirPods Max, I could see that the luggage was safely under me and a little further in the plane’s cargo hold—it seemed like I had a better seat than my bag. And while airplane mode is required while on the plane, even when we were flying over the East Coast of the United States, I could see an AirTag update of baggage in real time.

In the end, peace of mind during the flight was what AirTag gave me, and that’s a lot more than what I’ve previously gotten when traveling. The addition of the $29 AirTag effectively lowered my stress. And when it was time to get off the plane and make my way through the PBI to the baggage claim, I kept tabs on my luggage in the Find My app. The update was a little slower as I zigzagged my way through a very quiet station, but I could at least tell my bag was on the floor.

Jacob Kroll

While I hoped the carousel would be confusing enough to use Precision Finding, I could immediately spot my red Away bag. Precision Search uses augmented reality, or AR, to give you large directional arrows with spaces to find your AirTag on iPhone 11 or later. It’s pretty cool and it’s a game-changer for tracking items to deliver such fine precision.

If you want to increase the value of AirTag as the ultimate travel companion, it is worth checking out if your airline offers any baggage tracking services of its own. For example, Delta will keep tabs on your bag and update you via its app for Android or iOS. In it, you can track bags attached to your itinerary as they are scanned at every part of the flight and make their way through the airport and onto the plane.

From dropping your bag at check-in to being loaded onto the plane and then onto the baggage claim platform, AirTag along with the airline’s baggage tracking app seems like a superpower.

Jacob Kroll

The only downfall of AirTag? There is no built-in hole in the keyring, as on the Chipolo or Tile tracker, which is a drawback. Keep in mind that while you spend $29 on the tracker, you’ll then want an accessory to make it travel-friendly.

If you have a pocket or a safe place to put the AirTag inside your luggage, you don’t necessarily need an extra accessory. But given that it will be attached to your luggage, we think it’s worth investing in a keychain or ring accessory. We’ve collected a large number of AirTag accessories from laces to key chains, and even some that you can customize.

One of our favorites is the Belkin Secure AirTag Holder, which virtually secures the AirTag and ensures it doesn’t fall out. It will cost you about $12.99, which is much cheaper than an Apple leather keychain or leather ring.

The perfect AirTag port

If you will be traveling with AirTag, you do not want to lose it in your luggage. Consider this secure AirTag holder and clip it in place to your bag so it doesn’t get lost.

Although I didn’t actually lose my luggage with the AirTag attached, I did use it on a few trips and use it on my keys every day. If you’re good at loosing things in style or you’re used to misplacing things—and you have an iPhone—the AirTag makes a lot of sense. And while you do your final packing checks before summer travel, it’s worth spending a little more and getting AirTag for your peace of mind alone.

And if you’re going to meet the family, you can get four AirTags for $99 if you feel like gifting. If not, get one for yourself for $29.

AirTags for the whole family

If you want to make sure the whole family can keep track of their bags this summer travel season, consider four packs of AirTags.

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