Luggage Trackers - Bluetooth vs GPS Who Has Used Them?

I got the tile pro for our trip and did not like them. In Denver they worked pretty good I think. We got to Frankfurt and it showed my rifle was still in Denver. We had to confirm with airline that the rifle was in fact where it was supposed to be. The tile didn’t show it was there until about 12 hours later. Then it kept showing my suitcase moving all over the airport When we got to the outfitters place my wife threw them all away.
@M McDindi , we recently returned from SA and utilized 4 AirTags. I went this route based on a good friend’s recommendation. I did wait until the last minute but finally bit the bullet for piece of mind. We flew Chicago - London - JBurg - Port Elizabeth. What I experienced (similar to others comments on here) is that there is a bit of delay in the update. I am guessing it is due to exactly what you mentioned- no Bluetooth device nearby. That being said, I was able to track our checked bag, gun case, ammo case, and my carryon throughout the entire trip. Bring our first trip with guns, I became worried in Chicago when we were literally 15 mins from boarding and the guns and ammo still showed as not having been brought to the plane. I went to the gate counter and explained the situation to the desk clerk, showing them the AirTag locations on the app. They assured me the guns would be on the plane as that is the last thing loaded and the first thing off the plane. Sure enough, right before we boarded, they showed up. I would definitely recommend them for the budget conscious person. I have no experience with the GPS models but would expect they would be even better, just at a higher cost.
BTW- I even used the app to locate my guns in the customs offices throughout the flight. Followed the tags right to the proper location.
I would say either should work just fine.
What he said^^^^^^^. Mine worked, but on a couple of flights it did not show my luggage was on the plane, so I had hours of anxiety waiting to land to see if my bags had made the trip, that part of the situation I hated. When I got home to Pittsburgh, my gun did not arrive, I checked the airtag, it showed Newark, I showed this to the baggage lady, she did whatever she did on the computer and the next day my gun arrived at my house. So they are handy, but they are not perfect!
I used Tiles on all my bags, check-in and carry-on. I had only one tracking problem in Newark to Johannesburg when one check-in bag dropped off my app. Not sure it if was something I did or a glitch in the app, but the bag showed up again in the app at Johannesburg. My Tiles worked at the Harare airport.

My United Airlines app shows that my check-in bags are loaded in cargo. That said, when I returned to Fairbanks, AK, my Pelican Air did not make it on the carousel, even though my United App and my Tiles app showed they were loaded when I left both Newark and Chicago on return.

I went to the United desk and asked the lady where my luggage could be. She checked her computer and said it was still in Chicago and she would open a file--it would be on the next night's flight. I used the Tile app to ding the bag and show her it was somewhere very near where we were standing. Apparently it was brought to the office behind the United counter because it was deemed overweight for the carousel (if I understood correctly)--it wasn't overweight when I left Zim (AirLink) or Johannesburg according to those scales. Without that Tile app they would not have looked further for my Pelican Air that night. (That Tile has now paid for itself.)

Another thing is lack of overhead space for carry-ons. This trip on the United leg from Newark to Chicago, a number of us were made to have our carry-ons tagged as we boarded, and at the last minute taken from the ramp to cargo. United's app did pick it up as loaded, but my Tile gave me extra confidence it was really flying with me. It is a good idea to have TSA locks available or on your carry-on in case this happens to you.

Back a few days ago from Bots. Tile trackers in my carry-on, one checked bag and rifle case. Flew Delta from Tampa, Atlanta, Jberg, overnight then next morning SA Airlink to Gaborone Bots.

Played with the Tiles a couple of days just driving around locally before the flights. They were OK. Location updates on their map was not as frequent at I had hopped - every 15-30 min. The "history" feature was just OK too.

As far as use on the flights.....Could actually track everything moving thru the terminal in Tampa and on the aircraft. Again, the location updates were not "real time" instantaneous. The "real time" location is limited to being able to connect directly to your phone's Bluetooth. The regular tracking updates were frequent enough to see the rifle case and checked bag sitting on the ramp at our departure gate as we boarded. The Delta phone app also tracked and confirmed they were loaded.

Transfer thru Atlanta was pretty good but, it seems regular checked bags travel and are held in a different part of the terminal complex from the rifle cases. When we boarded, the Tile App still showed the rifle case somewhere in the terminal and the Delta App showed it loaded. As they were closing the door, pre-pairing to push back from the gate, I gave the claim ticket to one of the attunements to confirm on the manifest that it was actually loaded - yes.

Arrival in Jberg the tracking was slow. Mostly because I didn't have international data roaming on my phone so without data service, you can't connect to the company servers to track. I did have Bluetooth turned on and when the checked bag got within range of the Bluetooth signal it did connect directly to my phone with the localized location. The Jberg airport has expanded it's free WiFi service to 4 hours and shortly after I logged on the rifle case Tile was located and the map showed it in the approximate area of the SAPS office.

Next day's flight from Jberg to Gabs the tiles again worked just OK with the same 10-15 min location updates. Since you take a shuttle bus from the terminal to the aircraft out on the ramp, once the terminal's WiFi signal was lost, no more tracker location. However, I left the Bluetooth on and the aircraft was small enough and I was close enough for the bags to be picked up via the localized Bluetooth tracking.

Landing in Gabs and clearing Immigration, I connected to the terminals free WiFi and the only Tile the App could find was the one in my backpack via the localized Bluetooth. Our luggage did arrive and once close enough, the localized Bluetooth worked and then my phone reported the bag location back to the servers and they popped on the map.

Going back was about the same. One difference was boarding the Delta flt in Jberg. The Delta App showed the rifle case as being "loaded" and then a few minutes later being "unloaded" and the Tile tracker showed it still in the terminal but close the the aircraft. Doors close and preparing to push back from the gate and the Delta App is still showing the rifle case as still being "unloaded" and the Tile app showing it near the gate. Asked an attendant to confirm the manifest again and was told she didn't have time.

Landed in Atlanta, turn phone on and connect. Delta app is still showing the rifle case in Jberg and so is the Tile app. Clear Immigration and standing in the que waiting for bags and rifle cases and within 15-20 minutes they checked bag and the rifle case both pop up on the Tile app and I can see the rifle case in the Customs Office. Delta App is still showing the rifle case in Jberg.

Recheck everything to Tampa, same baggage tags as were put on in Gabs, get to Terminal A and hit the Delta lounge. Check the Tile App and it's showing checked bag and rifle case again in different parts of the terminal complex and Delta app is still showing the rifle case "unloaded" in Jberg. It stayed that way until it was "unloaded" back in Tampa. While the tile did showing sitting next to our flight when we boarded.

Bottomline - are they worth it? Yes and no. When connected to full data or WiFi they worked OK. Location updates were not nearly as frequent as I was expecting. Seemed to average 20-30 minutes behind. the "localized" part for when you're within 75-100ft of the item is OK but, not great. You can have them generate a tone to help you find them but, when buried inside a bag under clothing or padding in a rifle case, you're likely not going to hear it. For domestic use in the US where you're pretty much going to have phone/data service everywhere or if you have international roaming on your phone, they again worked OK.

Since I've already got them, I'll probably keep using them. Have another trip to Europe in a few months and I'll see how they do there. Are are they worth the money/would I buy them again? Don't know. They were far from perfect and have some big limitations but, in this one trip test sample they worked better than the Delta tracking app.
The OP asked about the two kinds of luggage tracking devices...bluetooth vs GPS.

Bluetooth (like AirTags) are reasonably priced with 4-packs available at less than $100 USD. The trade off is that there needs to be another Apple device around to daisy chain from. As you can read from the above comments, they work most of the time as long as you accept the limitations.

GPS trackers are not cheap and each one MUST have it's own battery. Battery life depends on the frequency of how often the GSP updates. If the GPS pings every 3 minutes the battery might last 40 hours but if you change it to ping every 3 seconds the battery life could be less than 24 hours. Of course this will change with the brand/model/size of the tracker but eventually your battery will die. Not to mention all the other factors that effect battery life like age, temperature, how they are used and charged...etc. GPS trackers also require a subscription to link up to a GPS network that is based on how often you want it to ping. More frequent pings means more money. They are also very bulky (about the size of a hockey puck) because they need to house a battery and will sometimes have a magnet. Think of it as something James Bond would slap to the underside of a car to track the bad guy to his long as the battery was charged and he had a subscription. ;)

For most people the AirTag or Tile are the best bang for the buck for tracking luggage. They are also useful for pets, young children (sewn into a jacket pocket or on shoelaces) who don't have a cell phone and even on your car.

My wife and I have used AirTags with great success many times while traveling. It's worth it to us for the peace of mind.
I started with 4 AirTags and now have over twenty. They are awesome and the fact you can command them to beep helps find car keys range badges and purses. Remember batteries are not allowed in checked bags and neither are the GPS trackers. The small battery in the air tags have been given an exception
Challer - your info "Remember batteries are not allowed in checked bags and neither are the GPS trackers. The small battery in the air tags have been given an exception", is not completely accurate.

Only Lithium metal and Lithium-Ion batteries have SOME restrictions in checked bags.

Per the FAA
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Tile's are good for finding your keys, wallet, phone, generally in bluetooth range. I did put one in my checked bag on my last trip to RSA and it let me know it had arrived at JNB and PE. Reading the thread, there's nothing 100%.

Edit: I found an ATV's rider's keys about a half mile behind my home. Got on the Tile website and reported them found and where they were presently located. A couple days later a young man came to my home, identified and claimed them. Saved him from purchasing an expensive car key. Not instantaneous like what most desire but still useful.
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I just returned from Romania. I had AirTags in my rifle case and checked bag. They worked
Just fine. As my rifle spent the hunt in the Cluj airport police station, it was nice to be able
To check on it now and
Then to verify that it had not moved.
I will say that you need to make sure you do your best to attach the tag to exactly what you want tracked. Having a tag on your rifle case will track exactly that…the case. If the case is broken into then it’s not likely to be moving much and everything in it will be gone with no ability to track it.

Not sure I could find a place on my rifles to hide an AirTag. Maybe in the butt of the stock? I know there is a place in the stock of my shotgun, but I’m not sure about the rifles.

For normal travel without firearms we usually place them in a rolled up sock or zippered pocket in the checked luggage.
Could I ask about your hunt in Botswana and maybe a pic or two!When I lived in Zim,I loved crossing the boarder to Francistown. I can’t remember the name of the place but I loved the Cheese Grillers.Food was tough to come by in Zim.
Air Tags - We have used them for all our travel for a couple of years now. Very comforting situational awareness tool that works exactly as advertised.

Though some of you curmudgeons will have to get rid of your flip phones. :rolleyes:
I was just thinking about that, I dont own a device but do have a flip phone! Oh the shame of it.
I finally broke down and bought some AirTags… after watching the American Airlines app find and lose my bow twice (once in London and once in Dallas… thankfully the bag was never actually lost and showed up.. but their bag tracking app sucks) on our way home from SA last July I decided I’d stop being a cheapskate and pick a few up..

We’re headed to Guatemala in a couple of weeks… I suspect they will work much better in Central America airports than the AA app will…
On my recent trip to Austria, I used AirTags. Apparently my luggage was checked in Vienna and the AirTag removed. The luggage arrived safely home and the AirTag is still in Vienna. It is still showing its location and transmitting.

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