Why AirTags is the best travel companion

We’re only one week away from Thanksgiving, and with that, the holiday season is in full swing. Whether it’s shopping for loved ones or friends or preparing for a trip, it’s a busy time.

To be honest before, I’m great at strategically losing things – or rather, losing things with style. (I hope you appreciate the “Toy Story” reference.) So when a product comes out, that’s a perfect way to keep my belongings – especially while traveling – I add it to my travel bag.

I was a big fan of Apple’s $ 29 item tracker, called AirTag. The long-haul AirTag product finally launched last spring, and although it’s not the first object tracker that exists, it has two key features that set it apart from the rest to make it the ultimate travel companion: access to the Find My Network and Accuracy. Find technology.

But what makes it so special? Let’s explain why and why this product is a great stocking for the frequent traveler in your life.

The ultimate travel companion

The Apple AirTag is the perfect tool to take with you on your next trip. Its functionality and size will ensure that you will never lose track of your bag while driving.

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

It is also the large size of the net that gives the object tracker a leg. 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 luggage, it can be pinned by devices that make up that network and pinpoint yours on a map. In our testing, it is more reliable and faster to upgrade than a competing Tile tracker.

Now, in a fairly dense area like an airport – say Newark Liberty International (EWR) or New York – Kennedy (JFK) – having so many devices around enables frequent local updates for your AirTag, enabling more accurate location tracking. The opposite can be said for a rural location of New Jersey versus New York City. The more devices your AirTag can reach, the more accurate and up-to-date the location of the AirTag.

And yes, you need an iPhone to use AirTag. You can set it up by holding it close to your iPhone and using the on-screen invitations to name it and link it to your Apple ID. Now, from a privacy standpoint, Apple has released updates to address some common issues with smart trackers. 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 that is registered to you.

Jacob Krol / CNN

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

Within the Find Mine app on my iPhone, I was able to select “Jake’s Baggage” and see it on a map. I could see where my luggage was in real time – still at the front of Newark Airport. And even though I didn’t physically have a line of sight on my luggage, I did have peace of mind that it was on its way to meet me at my final destination.

And of course, when I checked it a little later while at the gate, the luggage was closer to the plane. When I got on board and was in my seat shaking a pair of AirPods Max, I could see that the luggage was safely under me and a little further back in the cargo hold of the plane – it seemed like I had a better seat than my suitcase. And while airplane mode is required while on the plane, even as we flew over the East Coast of the United States, I could see the AirTag package being updated in real time.

After all, there was the peace of mind during the flight that the AirTag gave me, and that’s a lot more than what I had previously received while traveling. The addition of $ 29 AirTag effectively lowered my stress. And when it came time to leave and make my way through PBI to luggage, I kept tabs on my luggage in the Find Mine program. It was a little slower to upgrade as I meandered through a fairly quiet terminal, but I was able to at least get the gist that my bag was on the ground.

Jacob Krol / CNN

While I was hoping the carousel would be confusing enough to use Precision Find, I was immediately able to spot my red For-bag. Accurate Finding uses augmented reality, or AR, to give you great directional arrows along with distances to find your AirTag on an iPhone 11 or newer. It is quite amazing and is a game changer for object trackers to offer such accurate accuracy.

If you want to overload the AirTag as the ultimate travel companion, it’s worth checking to see if your airline offers its own parcel tracking services. For example, Delta will keep tabs on your bag and update you with its app for Android or iOS. In it, you can track the bags tied to your itinerary as they are scanned at each part of the trip and go through the airport and onto the plane.

From taking off your bag at check-in until it’s loaded onto the plane and then onto the baggage carousel, AirTag combined with the airline’s bag tracking program feels superpowerful.

Jacob Krol / CNN

The one fall of the AirTag? There is no built-in key ring hole, as at the Chipolo or Tile tracker, which is missing. Keep in mind that while you’re spending $ 29 for the tracker, you’ll then want to get an accessory especially to make it suitable for a trip.

If you have a pocket or a secure place to put the AirTag in your luggage, you don’t necessarily need an additional accessory. But considering that it will be attached to your package, we think it is worth the investment of a key chain or loop accessory. We’ve collected a bunch of AirTags accessories from strings to key chains and even a few that you can customize.

One of our favorites is the Belkin Secure AirTag Holder, which physically attaches the AirTag and ensures it won’t fall out. It will cost you between $ 9.99 and $ 12.99, which is much cheaper than Apple’s leather key or leather buckle.

The perfect AirTag accessory

If you’re traveling with AirTag, you don’t want to lose it in your luggage. Consider this secure AirTag handle and lock it in your bag so it won’t get misplaced.

While I didn’t physically lose my luggage with AirTag attached, I used it for a few trips and use one on my keys every day. If you’re able to lose things with style or have a habit of misplacing things – and have an iPhone – the AirTag makes a lot of sense. And since you’re doing the final checks before holiday trips, it’s worth spending a little more and getting an AirTag just for the peace of mind.

And if you see a family, you can get four AirTags for $ 97.62 if you’re willing to donate. If not, get one for yourself for $ 29.99.

AirTags for the whole family

If you want to make sure the whole family can track their bags this holiday travel season, consider a four-pack of AirTags.

Are you looking for a travel credit card? Find out which CNN Underscore cards have been chosen as ours best travel credit cards of 2021.


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