Lonely Planet Writer

Bags that track themselves could be the end of lost luggage

Luggage makers are debuting technology that helps travelers track their bags throughout a trip, which can be helpful if the bags are ever lost.

New tracking devices means lost bags can be returned to the owner.
New tracking devices means lost bags can be returned to the owner. Image by Courtesy of Bluesmart

Last year, more than 30 million bags were lost or mishandled worldwide. To be fair, though, most bags do make it to their destination. In 2014, airlines worldwide lost or mishandled 7.3 bags per 10,000 passenger flights globally. Happily, that figure is down about 60% from 2007.

New baggage tracking tools may bring that number down even farther, however. This summer Samsonite plans to unveil GeoTrakR, a bag that uses GPS signals and LugLoc brand technology to communicate its location via cellular networks. The price hasn’t been revealed yet.

In the autumn, new luggage maker Trunkster is set to debut a bag that has an upgrade option for global tracking via GPS signals. The bag costs $325, plus shipping, and its GPS tracking costs $40.

Going on sale in December, new luggage brand Bluesmart will feature technology to let users track their bags worldwide via a smartphone app, powered by GPS signals and the Telefónica mobile network.

New technological developments means tracking bags is easier than ever.
New technological developments means tracking bags is easier than ever. Image by Courtesy of Bluesmart

In a unique perk, if a bag is lost, the user can use Bluesmart’s app to track its location. If you are in the US and the airline finds the bag, the user can ask the app to request a driver from on-demand taxi service Uber to collect the bag at the airport and deliver it to you, for a fee. The bag costs $329 plus shipping.

These bag makers are capitalizing on a do-it-yourself trend among some travelers of stashing tracking devices in their own bags.

LugLoc, the technology firm that his partnering with Samsonite, already sells a bag tracing device that travelers can pack in their bags. $70, plus $7 for every 5 traces you request.

Similarly Trakdot is a packable device that emits a tracing signal. It costs $50 plus an annual subscription, such as a typical $20 plan for a year.

The quality of these tracking devices vary. Relying on GPS and cellular networks can be problematic inside airport buildings, which tend to disrupt the signals.

Ideally, airports would do their part. Toward that end, research and development arm of the airline industry, SITA, has been testing Bagjourney, a technological system that uses similar technologies to track luggage. The system works by having ground crew attach luggage tags with computer chips to the bags. The radio sensors can work well indoors, but have to be deployed at airports worldwide to provide end-to-end coverage.