Sharing some first hand experiences on some luggage tracking devices that I tried out.
I have been travelling a lot lately and the airport chaos has been quite dramatic across the world, so I spent a little time and money testing out various luggage tracking devices.
There are some great blogs on this topic around the industry, but here is my experience and assessment of several tracker options over the past 3 trips!
Trackdot was cutting edge when it first came out. It was ahead of its time.
I had this one in the past, but since it was based on 2G, it has been pretty much been discontinued and useless going forward. Do not use.
Tracki was an interesting experiment. After only relying upon the airline tracking app and limited information, I wanted to see if there was any alternatives to AirTags or a replacement for Trackdot.
It is a battery powered GPS tracker and here are the advantages and disadvantages based on my usage on two trips:
- It does have have GPS signal tracking
- It can help you determine where a bag may be sitting if it is outside
- It is most helpful in determining if you bag is in an airport or not
- When my flight was cancelled, I had confidence that my back was still in the airport and I was able to show an airline luggage employee that they were all out on the tarmac and needed to be brought to the arrivals areas
- It requires a monthly subscription which can be expensive
- It has a hard time getting a signal indoors, inside luggage carriers, inside the airport
- It may not update itself for long periods of time
- The mobile is not very usable and very confusing
- It takes a long time to get an update when they can find a signal
Summary: It is primary used for external vehicles, devices, etc. so you can track where they are moving (i.e. cars, bikes, etc.) It is helpful to determine if a bag was left behind, but the reliability of signal tracking is so low, it is not worth the cost for using for luggage.
Tiles were another experiment that I wanted to try after my first experiment with Tracki.
I do not have an iPhone, so I wanted to compare and see what alternatives may exist for the Android community. Here is what I found after one international trip and one domestic connection.
- Very easy to determine if your bag is close to you
- We found that we can detect if the bag is near or in the plane
- You can detect when the bag has arrived in the conveyer at the airport
- Very easy to use
- Very low cost
- It is only useful when the bags are close and within Bluetooth range
- It cannot be used to determine where a bag may be elsewhere in the airport
- It does not have precise locations, only general vicinity detection
Summary: When travelling, it is handy to know your bags are nearby, on the bus, arriving in luggage., etc. but they are not true trackers and have limited usage.
The AirTags are probably the best of the bunch, but they have some limitations too.
- They provide a combination experience of Tracki and Tiles
- They have the best visual application experience on the phone
- They can provide quick confidence the exact location of your bag when in populated areas
- If nobody with an iPhone is around your luggage, there is no data
- They do not provide locations when they are enclosed in spaces where are no people around
Summary: When you want confidence if someone other than yourself has your luggage, this is probably the best solution. Or if someone might have stolen or grabbed the wrong bag. However, if a bag is lost and not being stored near people with iPhones, the tracking will not provide any help in locating the bag.
In general, BlueTooth trackers are great in the airport and finding a piece of luggage when there are masses collected together or bags coming out on the conveyer belt in large crowds. However, I have not found a broadly available and holistic solution outside of these so far.