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Tag your bag: Travel experts share their thoughts on luggage trackers

Billy Hathorn : CC BY-SA 3.0

By Michael Lee, CTVNews.ca Writer

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Toronto, Canada (CTV Network) — With flight cancellations and delays leaving most Canadians worried about air travel, many soon-to-be travelers may be thinking of ways to avoid the airport headaches others have experienced.

For some, that may involve keeping an eye on their luggage with the use of Bluetooth or GPS trackers, small devices originally designed to track items such as misplaced keys and backpacks, but could prove helpful when flying through some of the world’s busiest airports, experts say.

“I think right now it’s a wise option, especially for flying through one of those major hubs that have a connecting flight,” Jennifer Weatherhead, founder of travelandstyle.ca, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Tuesday.

“Everyone has seen those videos — I have seen the videos and experienced them — of massive piles of bags at different airports that people have to sort through and root through.”

In the case of air travel, a person can place a tracker in their suitcase to help locate it in the pile of other bags at their final destination.

Popular Bluetooth-based trackers include Apple’s AirTag, Samsung’s SmartTag and Tile, which use a mobile app to help locate the item being tracked.

Others use GPS, which could be helpful if a bag hasn’t left its destination quite yet.

Some trackers emit a sound when used or can show an item’s most recent location if outside of the Bluetooth range.

Having that tracker could provide a little extra “peace of mind” knowing where your bag is, Weatherhead says.

She says she would prefer a GPS-based tracker, with Bluetooth not always connecting properly based on personal experience, but said it ultimately comes down to whatever brand people are most comfortable with.

Trackers may be specific to certain operating systems such as iOS or Android, while those using GPS may require a subscription.

Apple’s AirTag, meanwhile, uses other iPhones, iPads and Mac devices on the Find My network to help track an item.

“The more security you can have in making sure you and your stuff get to where you’re going, the better,” travel expert Natalie Preddie told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Having a separate paper or leather luggage tag that includes your contact information such as an email or phone number on the exterior of one’s bag, along with an electronic tracker, could be a useful combination when it comes to finding and retrieving your luggage, Preddie says.

Above all, experts say if you can fly with just carry-on only, do so.

“I would really, really recommend just flying with a carry-on to avoid this at the moment, because at this point it looks like we’re looking at a summer of this,” Preddie said.

Weatherhead also advises travellers to fly with just carry-on if they can.

For anyone concerned about privacy and security, particularly with Bluetooth-based trackers, opting for a carry-on could be a more suitable option, as well.

The Apple AirTag has raised privacy concerns, with reports over the past year showing the tags can be slipped into people’s belongings, such as a purse or car, and used to track people without their knowledge.

Apple says AirTags have a feature to “guard against unwanted tracking” and shares alerts if an unknown tracker may be travelling with you.

However, even if you don’t have any checked bags, a flight may ask passengers to check in their carry-on luggage if there isn’t enough overhead space.

“Even if you’re doing carry-on, it might still be a good idea to have a luggage tag just in case that happens,” Weatherhead said.

If you do have to check in your carry-on bag, she says to make sure you have all of your valuables with you, along with anything else you may need.

In the end, experts say to double check the size and weight of your luggage to ensure it conforms with your aircraft’s carry-on rules, as well as any other restrictions such as liquid allowances.

With files from CTVNews.ca Writer Solarina Ho, CTV National News Associate Producer Christy Somos and The Canadian Press

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