If you’ve traveled enough, you’ve experienced a horror story with lost or misplaced luggage.
Money expert Clark Howard has suggested that airlines have done a worse job at getting baggage from Point A to Point B in the last year.
Airlines have gone through a roller coaster of sorts. The onset of COVID-19 sank travel demand in 2020 and 2021. When restrictions were lifted and life transitioned back to normal, travel demand went bonkers in the last year.
However, airlines pared back pilots, flights and key airport personnel as a result of COVID. So it’s been a bumpy ride as companies have scrambled to ramp up operations again, avoid cancelations and keep everything running smoothly.
Those issues, along with bad weather, contributed to cascading Southwest cancelations in January.
With record travel demand this summer and some airlines still straining to accommodate that demand, there’s plenty of potential for headaches.
Should you buy an AirTag or competitor Tile to place inside your checked baggage any time you fly? That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.
Is Buying an AirTag for My Checked Baggage a Good Idea?
Should I buy an AirTag to track my checked bags when I fly?
That’s what a listener asked on the June 1 podcast episode.
Asked Shirley in California: “I’m flying on Hawaiian Airlines in August. With so many lost luggage stories in the news, should I buy an Apple AirTag to put in my checked luggage just in case? I haven’t bought the AirTag yet and await your advice. Thanks.”
Clark, who owned and operated travel agencies earlier in his career, is still constantly hopping flights. He’s called travel “a flat-out mess” during the current era.
“These things have become extremely valuable for tracking lost luggage that the airlines have no idea where it is,” Clark says. “The underlying location and how they relay the location of the AirTag or the Tile — I mean, there are some really smart people out there.
“But remember, the best way to avoid having your bag stolen is to never check a bag. If it can’t fit in my carry-on, it doesn’t make the trip.”
Clark Howard’s Travel Rules Right Now: No Checked Bags
Even if you know where your luggage is, if the airline fails to get it to your arrival airport when you reach your destination, you’re still dealing with a mess.
Some people suggest taking valuables, a change of clothes and other basic necessities in your carry-on bag just in case. Clark takes it one step further by suggesting you avoid checking a bag at all unless absolutely necessary.
“Do not, do not. Do. Not. Check. A. Bag. Don’t do it,” Clark says. “Checking a bag right now? You’ve got to hate yourself to check a bag because you lose so much flexibility.”
Airlines have also gotten profit-hungry in terms of fees for checked bags and the size that disallows you from using your bag as carry-on luggage.
“There have [also] been criminal rings that have been busted,” Clark says. “A criminal will steal bags [that weren’t] even redirected by the airline. It made it to where it’s support to go and then somebody runs off with the bags.
“And the AirTags have helped police all around the country and overseas bust criminal rings that are stealing luggage from baggage carousels.”
Clark’s four travel rules you should follow right now provide further guidance on making your flights as smooth as possible.
If you decide to buy an AirTag or Tile to track your luggage, the good news is that they’re relatively affordable.
Plus, they’re on sale fairly often. ClarkDeals.com consistently posts deals and discounts on AirTags.
But if you can go the Clark route and avoid checking a bag altogether, you’ll save yourself money and stress.