Over the summer, we went on a big family reunion cruise to Alaska, which meant nine adults and three kids meeting up in the Seattle airport. Everyone was coming from different parts of the country, so coordination and timing was key since we had a specific door closing and sailing time. We left at the crack of dawn from San Francisco and happily enough, everyone arrived on time. Everything was going so well until we realized that two suitcase, for my wife and son, were missing!
We sprang into action, hound dogging the baggage service people as they attempted to locate our bags. All they could come back with is that they had no idea where the bag could be, but that as soon as they located it, they would send it to wherever we would be. Since we had two days of sailing before our arrival in Juneau Alaska, this was clearly not going to make my wife happy especially since all she had was the clothes on her back for the first formal dinner. The baggage folks were very nice, but their baggage tracking showed nothing and they really had no idea if the bag would arrive on the next flight or the next day. All we could do was wait for another three hours and hope for the best. Luckily, this story has a happy ending. The suitcases arrived and we rushed out the door to make our departure.
On many other trips, this has not been the case. We are a traveling family and have found ourselves, and our trip plans, grounded due to lost bags for up to three days, especially over European holidays. This is when having a product like the Lug Loc Luggage Locator would come in handy.
The Lug Loc is a small, phone-like device that you power up, turn on and throw in your suitcase. It has a GMS (better than GPS) homing device inside it so you see your luggage anywhere in the world. The recent addition of an iOS app (for iPhone and iPad) makes it possible to see the location on your phone. As if by magic, you can “ping” the device and find it’s location and even how much battery it has left. While it won’t bring your suitcase to you, it will help you and the airlines locate where it actually is at any given time.
You can buy the Lug Loc at GeniusPack.com for $49.99 including 12 months of tracking. This seems like a steep price though perhaps manageable if you have to travel a lot for work and must check your bags.
A few important things to note before you buy:
1. Ongoing tracking subscriptions are expensive. Right now, an additional 12 months will run you another $40. I have no idea what the tracking infrastructure is behind the device, but this is a high price hurdle for most people as an annual charge.
2. Location tracking is not exact. In tests at our home and at the airport, the luggage location was easily 2-3 blocks away. You would not be able to use this to get exact location of a piece of luggage. Compare this to the iPhone’s “Find my Phone” feature, which can tell you if the device is in the front or rear of your house and you will be disappointed.
3. Lug Loc provides a tag for the outside of your luggage with a number for baggage handlers to call. If you lose your bag, their operators will help monitor the retrieval of the bag, though I don’t know if they can do much more than you could at that point.
4. At this price, I’m surprised Lug Loc does not offer free insurance for lost bags since this would seem to be a great proof point for their product, especially at this price.
Of course, you also have to remember to charge and turn on the device before you fly. On a recent trip to Europe, I successfully tracked my bag on my iPhone from SFO to CDG where I retrieved it. However, on the way home, I forgot to even turn it on, rendering it useless. Luckily, this time, all of our bags arrived back home along with us.