Safari Travel Tip - Air Tags

BTB Joe

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Last year, my brother and I purchased Apple Air Tags and placed them in two pieces of luggage that we use when traveling to Africa as well as in our ammo case and double rifle case. In the ammo and rifle cases, we cut small slots in the foam and slid them inside. A friend of mine had mentioned that the technology was affordable and easy to use. Though we'd traveled to Africa a dozen times without incident, it seemed to make sense as something along the lines of an insurance policy (four Air Tags were under $100) ... so we bought them.

Well this week, it paid off. When we returned Thursday from Namibia (leopard hunt), two bags and our rifle case arrived. The bag containing the ammo case did not. Repeated searches around the carousel by us and an airline representative failed to find the bag. We were instructed to fill out a lost bag claim form. Loss of ammo and a few clothing items wouldn't have been a big deal. However, the Swarovski range-finding binos in the bag upped the ante. And then we remembered the Air Tag!

After connecting to the airport wifi, I used the Find Me app on my Iphone to see where all of the bags were. Three showed up as we knew in the airport where we landed. The fourth was located in Rome. We had refueled in Rome on the return flight and, somehow, the fourth bag had been left there. We sent a screen shot of the Find Me app showing that the bag was there (it showed the location and time it was detected there) to the email address listed on the baggage claim form. A short time later, we received an email from them saying thanks, they'd notify their folks there. The same evening, we received a message that the bag had been located and would be forwarded to us as soon as possible. Today, Find Me shows that it is now in the US and we have been alerted that it should arrive at a nearby airport tomorrow.

It is quite possible that the airline would have found the bag without our prompting. However, it was gratifying to know as we left the airport that it hadn't been picked up accidently (or intentionally, recall the Biden appointee who made off with high end clothing and jewelry last year) by another passenger in baggage claim. One of the downsides of traveling with firearms (at some US airports) is that you are forced to wait to clear your rifles before you're allowed to proceed to claim your other luggage. I'm always annoyed by that because while you're waiting, the rest of your gear is circling the carousel where anyone could simply walk away with it. I can't recall the last time I saw airline personnel check claim numbers as people exit the area.

In any case, if the bag arrives tomorrow and the contents are intact, this incident will be behind us. I thought I'd post this as I know many of the folks on this forum are traveling with firearms, binos, cameras, etc. that are expensive and/or may have substantial sentimental value. Air Tags (and I believe there are other similar brands) aren't perfect but they do give you a bit of a backup plan if those items are lost. Perhaps this has already been discussed on this forum but I did a search and Air Tags didn't show up so I thought I'd pass it along.
 
My gun case got fouled up at Pearson in Toronto on my return from Africa last August. My phone is Android but my daughter here has iPhone and she tracked it and sent me text images of the location. It came in on the late flight the same day I arrived home. I taped the AirTag to the case shell underneath the foam. Hiding it inside a slot cut in the foam is probably a better idea.
 
I find it strange that if you just refuelled in Rome (Ethiopian?) that baggage had been offloaded. If that is the case I would suspect that it was illegally “offloaded “ and put away for a while to see if it attracted attention, ie had a tracker , before disappearing.
High value items I prefer to carry in my carryon luggage.
 
I flew this same route last week. Customs really don’t like it when you pick up your luggage and take it to them while you wait for the guns. They had a supervisor take with me about it. Lol. Who were you hunting with?
 
I’ve used Air Tags since the technology came out and while I’ve never had to use it, it’s a good tool if/when gear goes missing.
 
Here’s a tip. You don’t need to be on WiFi to use Find Me. Second, once you’ve boarded the plane, use Find Me to check if your bags are on or near the plane.

On a recent trip, I lost my parking ticket and had no idea where I’d left my car. Upon landing, the AirTag in the car led me directly to it. I put these things in all luggage, gun cases, range bags, keys, and cars. They’ve paid off several times.
 
My gun case got fouled up at Pearson in Toronto on my return from Africa last August. My phone is Android but my daughter here has iPhone and she tracked it and sent me text images of the location. It came in on the late flight the same day I arrived home. I taped the AirTag to the case shell underneath the foam. Hiding it inside a slot cut in the foam is probably a better idea.
The best idea is to buy the cool Pelican Air Tag holders. I have them in nice hiding places in my cases!
 
Excellent post! Y'all know I have to have all things Pelican so here you go:

 
My wife and I have been using Apple AirTags for a while now. For rifle cases, I make a little cut in the side of the foam and slide it in for concealment and to hold it in place. Regular luggage they end up in socks or maybe even a shower tote. They are great for normal travel vacations or when going on a hunting trip. We use them for every trip. Comforting to know that your luggage is "on the plane" or "coming to the carousel".

The downside of the AirTags is there has to be an Apple product nearby for it to "ping" from. My neighbor who travels about 40-50 times a year with top quality computer equipment has actual GPS devices mounted to the luggage that send a signal every three minutes. The downside of these is that they are heavy, require a subscription, expensive, battery life varies based on ambient temperature & ping rate and you must recharge to insure proper performance. I would only recommend this when traveling with the very most expensive equipment.

If you are REALLY worried about luggage going missing, the investment in a GPS tracker is the way to go.
 
I find it strange that if you just refuelled in Rome (Ethiopian?) that baggage had been offloaded. If that is the case I would suspect that it was illegally “offloaded “ and put away for a while to see if it attracted attention, ie had a tracker , before disappearing.
High value items I prefer to carry in my carryon luggage.
Ethiopian has passengers who disembark at Rome. Bag probably offloaded with their luggage by mistake.
 
I find it strange that if you just refuelled in Rome (Ethiopian?) that baggage had been offloaded. If that is the case I would suspect that it was illegally “offloaded “ and put away for a while to see if it attracted attention, ie had a tracker , before disappearing.
High value items I prefer to carry in my carryon luggage.
I believe there were a few passengers who got off the flight in Rome so they may have had to remove some luggage. Or perhaps they dropped cargo of some sort. In the past, Ethiopian Airlines flights from Addis to Dulles refueled in Dublin and I don't recall any passengers getting off. On this flight, everyone got off and then most boarded again for the flight to DC,
 
I flew this same route last week. Customs really don’t like it when you pick up your luggage and take it to them while you wait for the guns. They had a supervisor take with me about it. Lol. Who were you hunting with?
Ahh. You failed to follow the red line! No humor in some of those guys (although they have generally been pretty good about checking firearms). We hunted with Shona Hunting Adventures just below Etosha near Kamanjab. Hunted two areas; both were quite nice with plenty of game.
 
Ethiopian has passengers who disembark at Rome. Bag probably offloaded with their luggage by mistake.
Yes, I think that's likely the case. I know one passenger who sat in front of us (an off-duty flight attendant I believe) didn't take the second leg of the flight and there may have been others.
 
Different vein of the travel topic but here goes.

As a contractor, I have 11 electric scissor lifts that we haul almost weekly from job to job. They stay active or idle on jobs for various periods of time, for various reasons.

We have been using the One Key app from Milwaukee tools generally unsuccessfuly for about a year now; attempting to keep track of them. It’s been a battle and the One Key is far from a perfect solution. Battery life, signal/recepion, operator error and lack of users with the app on their phones. These things limit the effectiveness of the system.

Would the Apple Air tags be a better solution? The rub being 17 of my 22 company phones are Android.

John
 
Different vein of the travel topic but here goes.

As a contractor, I have 11 electric scissor lifts that we haul almost weekly from job to job. They stay active or idle on jobs for various periods of time, for various reasons.

We have been using the One Key app from Milwaukee tools generally unsuccessfuly for about a year now; attempting to keep track of them. It’s been a battle and the One Key is far from a perfect solution. Battery life, signal/recepion, operator error and lack of users with the app on their phones. These things limit the effectiveness of the system.

Would the Apple Air tags be a better solution? The rub being 17 of my 22 company phones are Android.

John
Samsung makes the Smart tag that does the same thing, only reporting when it sees an Android device. I recently bought some and sent one across two states with my son who is an Apple user and was pretty much able to figure out where he was as he traveled. I then made a trip to his house and used my Android device to navigate to it. It took me near his house and then switched modes to fine tune where it was by using single strength getting weaker or stronger. It eventually led me to within a few feet of it and although I did not see it, it has a ring function that I activated and it was within arms reach.

I will soon be taking a trip to Wisconsin to visit my other son and hopefully do some trapshooting while there. I will have one in the case with my shotgun and am anxious to see how it works in seeing where the case is along the way.
 

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