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Why you should use a Bluetooth or UWB tracker when travlling

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Published: Aug 14, 2022 / Last updated: Dec 10, 2022 / By Andrew Doering

Introduction

Over the past year, I have experienced two instances where an Airline has lost my bag. The first instance, my bag was found nearly instantaneously. The second time however… it was lost in the great European Baggage Issue of 2022.

Different types of Trackers

There are two main different types of trackers used daily

  • Bluetooth (BT)
  • Ultra-Wideband (UWB)

There are also other options like:

  • Cellular
  • Satellite

However, these are far more expensive and less convenient for the typical person.

As Bluetooth and Ultra-Wideband are the most common, with Bluetooth being originally the most common as more products were released earlier. Than UWB came out later on in the lifecycle of tracking devices.

Bluetooth Trackers

  • Tile
  • Chipolo
  • Samsung Galaxy SmartTag
  • A few others, that I won’t mention here

Tile is by far the OG in the tracking device scene started in 2012.

Chipolo is a relatively recent new comer on the scene - and is basically providing a tile with all of the features of Tile Premium for free. I do not know much about the service.

Samsung’s tag systems only work with their phones, so if you have a Samsung phone - then it is great, however I have a Pixel 7 Pro, so I am unable to use these. The Samsung Device Network is massive (arguably at the same or higher level than Apple’s), so these are worth it if you can utilize them.

Ultra-Wideband Trackers

Apple seems to predominantly own the market here, especially with it’s extensive “Find My” platform.

The current trackers out on the market are:

  • Apple AirTags
  • Samsung Galaxy SmartTag+

Tile was originally going to be rumored for a release in early 2022, which was announced in Fall 2021. However, but as of today, Tile still doesn’t list any “Ultra” related items on their search.

Part of the reasoning for this, might be because UWB was only introduced in Android 13 in October of 2022. However, Tile was also acquired by a company called Life360 - which is likely another large reason as to why the product has not been released.

Apple AirTags (at the current moment) are the current gold standard with the UWB technology that allows you to pinpoint due to the more specified locations.

So why do I use them?

December 2021

When I flew in December of 2021 to go home for Christmas, my bag was lost on Lufthansa. Thankfully I had a tracking device in the bag, and could tell exactly where it was. It was sitting in the Frankfurt airport near where I was supposed to board. Makes sense, I had a 30 minute layover to get through border security, covid checks, and any other government based login that was required by the airline or government.

June 2022

When I flew in June of 2022, I was flying for a funeral. I was flying back through Schipol airport on KLM when they were experiencing some of their worst issues, and started implementing limitations and constraints around the airport which extended from the summer, nearly went on strike, to as recently as November. The baggage was stuck in Schipol for a few days. Then I was told via SMS that it had begun it’s transition to Stockholm Arlanda airport. It did indeed, but then it got lost in a sea of issues. It was registered as being delivered, but, due to some mistake in the baggage carrier, the bag was not actually loaded onto the delivery vehicle and was placed in a different section of the storage warehouse they had for bags. I went to the Stockholm Arlanda airport for multiple days trying to determine we my bag “went” and wasn’t able to get anywhere.

Then came the hassle with KLM trying to file a baggage claim report to get reimbursed for the lost bag. You can read about that in another blog post, and find out the best way to usually get the airlines to reimburse you the full amounts.

Update (December):

Several months later, the bag pinged on the tile app as being found (again), and I went to Arlanda. Thankfully I was able to hand my phone to one of the agents and asked them fo “Find it”. And they were able to. They weren’t able to explain why the bag was placed in the wrong place, but it was.

Moral of the story

Use a tracker, it will save you a long hassle of dealing with lost baggage. Personally, I have used Tile for quite some time, however now that Tile was bought by Life360 I am looking for an alternative. Life360 is known to sell your tracking/advertising data without care, so currently I am on the market for a new tracker that is just as convenient but provides UWB support for Android Devices (and specifically for non-Sansung phones).