No more lost luggage? It’s not science fiction

Lost luggage may soon become as rare as lost airline tickets — or, at least, you’d think so when you talk to someone like Randal Collins.

Collins, a flight attendant based in Chicago, left his iPad on a recent flight. He had tagged it with a $25 device called Tile that emits a wireless signal up to 100 feet. It also uses a network of other Tile users to help owners find missing objects.

The tablet proved to be elusive, first tracking at his arrival gate. By the time he showed up to claim it, the plane had been moved to a hangar. Collins reported the iPad missing, and a few weeks later, another Tile user picked up its trail, displaying its likely location in a terminal at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

“After combing through the gates in the vicinity, I found it in the closet behind a gate, on the ledge above a door,” he remembers. “I’m not sure if it was placed there and forgotten by someone who found it. Tile led me directly to it.”

Tile is just one of several new ways travelers are finding lost belongings. They include devices that use such technology as Bluetooth and GPS and leverage the power of crowd-sourcing to find and retrieve your items. They’re worth considering for your next trip.

It’s hard to gauge the extent of the lost-baggage problem. Rail and bus companies don’t report statistics on lost luggage. Neither do hotels, which often store bags on behalf of their guests. Airlines are required to report a “mishandled” baggage rate, which includes lost and misplaced bags. For 2013, the most recent year for which numbers are available, that rate was 4.55 bags per 10,000 passenger enplanements, up from 4.15 bags the year before.

What’s known, though, is that lost items are a top annoyance on the verge of being eliminated, according to technology experts.

“In the near future, every object will be smart and trackable,” says futurist Gray Scott. “The idea of lost luggage will disappear from our lexicon.”

Among the gadgets designed to make that happen is KiiTAG, a luggage tracker similar to Tile. The $20 device has a 200-foot range but, at six months, half the battery life of the Tile.

To extend your range farther, you can use something like the Vectu Max (available for pre-order at $100). It’s an emergency-response locator that can track your belongings — as well as people — around the world. The Max, which looks like a small cellphone, uses GPS and cellphone technology to track your property.

Trakdot ($50, plus $20 annual service fee) works the same way and is specifically marketed for air travelers. The Trakdot, which looks like a small computer hard drive, uses cellular technology to find your bag. It can send alerts to your smartphone whenever your luggage arrives at an airport.

Of course, it’s only a matter of time before all this technology becomes integrated with the luggage itself. That’s the idea behind two new carry-on bags available later this year. The Bluesmart (starting at $300), which begins shipping in August, will feature tracking technology, a digital lock and the ability to weigh your property and track your trip via a smartphone app. And the Trunkster ($300 and up), which will be available in September, does almost the same thing, but also has an innovative “zipperless” entry design.

On a smaller scale, the Royce Freedom Wallet ($99) offers the same wireless tracking ability as the tracking tags but folds directly into a leather wallet.

The renaissance of luggage-tracking presents an interesting problem for companies that lose your luggage, particularly airlines. Those companies had every opportunity to deploy tracking technology on a broad scale, but they decided it was too expensive. What will happen when passengers know more about the whereabouts of their missing luggage than the airline? We can only imagine some of the resulting arguments.

If travelers embrace this technology, it’s not too hard to envision a world in which everything of value is tracked and connected. In that world, lost luggage would be completely preventable.

Until then, you can spend a few extra dollars to tag your luggage, or you can use a tried-and-true method when your airline, hotel or rail operator loses your bag. That’s what Johanna Westerman did. She was flying from London to Los Angeles on Virgin Atlantic with her four children, and a bag with souvenirs went missing. Unfortunately, the gate agents in London had forgotten to tag it.

“It was of particular importance because my children had never been to Europe before, so it held one-of-a-kind treasures carefully gathered as souvenirs to commemorate their first trip to London and Paris,” says Westerman, a children’s book illustrator from Newport Beach, Calif.

Efforts to recover the luggage through the claims process were futile. Virgin would need to conduct a manual search using a computerized baggage-matching program. “They were not encouraging,” she says.

So Westerman resorted to the ultimate tracking device: She e-mailed Virgin’s chief executive, Richard Branson, directly. “I heard from his head assistant, Julie, the very next day,” she says. “They found the bag.”

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

%d bloggers like this:
Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.