Amid flight cancellations, delays, staff shortages and eyebrow-raising reports of lost luggage, no one is looking at the airline industry with rose-tinted glasses.
The holiday travel season left thousands of Canadians stranded across the country and abroad, with Sunwing Airlines receiving 7,000 complaints from unhappy customers alone.
The turbulent travel season was so bad that MPs have called on officials from the major airlines and Via Rail, as well as Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, to testify in a travel chaos study for the December 2022-January 2023 period.
While airline passengers have little control over flight cancellations and delays, many are turning to electronic luggage trackers to keep an eye on their belongings.
How do luggage trackers work?
A luggage tracker is a small device that goes inside your suitcase and communicates its location using GPS, Bluetooth, wifi or cellular data.
Most trackers are battery-powered, so you'll want to ensure their charge can last the duration of your trip or plan to recharge at your destination.
Some trackers are designed for specific operating systems, like the Apple AirTag and the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag, while others play well with all smartphones and only require an accompanying app or subscription.
While a tracker can't guarantee a hassle-free travel experience, it may offer peace of mind if you're travelling with priceless or expensive items.
Best luggage trackers in 2023
Every luggage tracker or tag has its pros and cons. Monthly subscriptions aside, some trackers need to be scanned to be found, which may not be helpful if it's inside your suitcase hidden under a mountain of luggage. Additionally, many trackers have a limited Bluetooth range, which is an obvious disadvantage if your luggage is outside the distance radius.
However, there are a handful of trackers that reviewers have come to swear by. To shop the best luggage trackers and tags available in 2023, scroll below.
Average rating: 4.3 stars
This powerful tracker helps locate missing objects both near and far. When the Tile is within Bluetooth range, the app will ring your Tile to help you find it. When it's out of range, you can view its most recent location on a map within the app. The Tile app is compatible with iOS and Android devices and works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri.
The device is water-resistant, has a Bluetooth range of up to 400 ft/120 m, and can be used to find your phone, even when silent.
Average rating: 4.8 stars
If you're familiar with any suitcase or item tracker, it's likely the Apple AirTag. The AirTag works via the Apple's Find My app, available on compatible iOS devices. If the AirTag is nearby, the precision finding feature will take you straight to your missing item, and when out of range, the AirTag will ping off nearby Apple devices to find its location.
An AirTag is splash, water, and dust-resistant for durability and comes with a standard battery that can last for over a year. When the battery is dead, it can be replaced. Shoppers can choose between a single AirTag for $39 or a pack of four for $129. On Best Buy Canada, both the single and four-pack have more than 8,500 reviews.
Average rating: 4.3 stars
The Galaxy SmartTag, Samsung's answer to the AirTag, connects to Galaxy smartphones using the SmartThings app. If your item is nearby, you can ping the SmartTag in the app and follow a ringtone of your choosing. If your tag is out of range, the Galaxy Find Network can use scanned data to find it.
Average rating: 4.2 stars
An excellent choice for international or long-distance travel, the Tracki Mini GPS Tracker has an unlimited distance range thanks to 4G LTE technology. The tracker has a built-in international SIM card and requires a monthly membership.
Its rechargeable battery can last up to five days and tracks your belongings in real-time every 1-5 minutes. If real-time tracking is not necessary, the battery can last between 30-75 days, following your items 1-3 times per day. The device requires the accompanying Tracki app and is compatible with Android, iOS and internet browsers with a monthly fee.
Average rating: 3.8 stars
LandAirSea's GPS tracker offers worldwide coverage and long-lasting battery life. If the device is in low-power mode, the battery can last up to six months, and if you want frequent updates, a charge will last for one-two weeks. The tracker uses 4G LTE technology to keep tabs on your belongings and can track luggage in real time with Google Maps and the SilverCloud App.