Whether you’ve seen them on TikTok or read about them in recent headlines, you probably know that luggage trackers are getting a lot of attention following last summer’s airport chaos caused by mishandled luggage and flight cancellations. But how exactly do these tracking devices work, and are they worth all the hype?
What are luggage trackers?
A luggage tracker is a small device that attaches to or goes inside of checked baggage and utilizes GPS, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technology to communicate its location.
Can I put a GPS luggage tracker in my luggage?
The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) says baggage location tracking devices are permitted as long as they meet one of the following limitations:
- The luggage tracker lithium cannot exceed 0.3 grams.
- Lithium-ion batteries with a Watt-hour rating cannot exceed 2.7 Wh.
The FAA also recommends travelers check with the airline ahead of their trip.
Do I need a luggage tracker?
Technically, a luggage tracker isn’t necessary since airlines and airports already – and for the most part efficiently – keep tabs on baggage. However, if you’re concerned by the rise in reports of mishandled luggage and looking for extra peace of mind, a tracking device can be a valuable purchase – especially considering many of the best luggage trackers are priced in the $30 range. Tracking devices are also useful for everyday needs, such as finding lost car keys.
Of course, the best method for completely avoiding lost luggage will always be packing only a carry-on bag for your trip.
What are the best luggage trackers?
While there’s an increasing amount of luggage tracking devices on the market – including the newly released Security SmartTrack Link by eufy (Anker) – these are the best luggage trackers based on consumer ratings and reviews, as well as FAA compliance.
(Courtesy of Tile)
- Rating: 4.4/5 stars
- Best feature: Finds phones
- Compatible devices: Android, iOS
Nearly a decade after Tile launched its first tracking device, its products remain some of the best on the market. The Tile Pro is especially ideal for locating luggage, tracking items up to 400 feet away. It can also help you find your smartphone; double-press the Tile button to make your phone ring, even if it’s in silent mode. Users – who agree this tracking device is easy to use and convenient for everyday use – can add their contact information in settings to be notified if someone in the Tile network finds their tag and scans its QR code. The Tile Pro is water-resistant and offers up to one year of (replaceable) battery life. It is compatible with all operating systems as well as Amazon Alexa, Siri, Hey Google and Smart Home.
(Courtesy of Apple)
- Rating: 4.5/5 stars
- Best features: Lost Mode
- Compatible devices: iOS
With a one-year replaceable battery life and a one-tap setup that syncs it with the Find My app, the AirTag is an easy choice for iPhone, iPad and iPod users. In addition to Ultra Wideband technology that allows it to locate belongings, this bag tag utilizes the help of other devices when set in Lost Mode. If your luggage is detected by someone in the Find My network, you’ll automatically get a notification, and if you’ve included your contact information in settings, that someone will have access to it when they scan your AirTag with an NFC-capable smartphone. Don’t worry, though – privacy features ensure only you can see where your AirTag is, and that any devices relaying its location stay anonymous.
Many reviewers agree the AirTag’s technology surpasses that of the popular Tile trackers. Purchase a single AirTag or pack of four to place one in your suitcase, attach one to your key ring (with a designated holder), stick one in your wallet and/or share one with family.
Samsung Galaxy SmartTag+
(Courtesy of Samsung)
- Rating: 4.5/5 stars
- Best feature: AR Finding
- Compatible devices: Android
Designed to work with Samsung Galaxy smartphones, the SmartTag+ syncs with the SmartThings app to locate misplaced luggage, keys and more. Reviewers say the device works well, typically tracking items within 120 meters (or about 400 feet) – even when Wi-Fi is unavailable. The bag tag’s AR Finding feature directs users to their lost item step by step, with a green sensor light appearing as they near the location.
The Samsung Galaxy SmartTag+ has a six-month replaceable battery life and comes in two colors: black and denim blue. It’s available in a one- or two-pack. The standard Samsung Galaxy SmartTag, available in black and oatmeal, is also well rated and promises a one-year battery life.