We’ve all been there.
Your flight just touched down at your vacation destination and you peer out the window as the plane taxis to the gate. You’re anxious to breathe non-recycled air for the first time in nearly 10 hours. You are on V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N.
Heading down the jetway, exhausted but excited, you make a beeline to baggage claim.
As you get closer, people gathered around the carousel as if they are watching luggage fight club. First rule of luggage fight club: Don’t pick up someone else’s black 28-inch wheelie bag.
Then it happens.
You start seeing the same bags go by on the carousel — more than a few times now.
The faces you came to know so well on that 9-and-a-half-hour flight from JFK to Athens have all disappeared. They’ve all grabbed their bags and by now are at the car rental counter or comfortably seated in the back seat of their rideshare heading off to a beautiful resort, hotel or Airbnb.
But not you.
Suddenly that vacation elation joy turns into suitcase suspense.
Where are your bags?
I travel a lot and this is the first time I can remember my bags didn’t arrive when and where I did. First time for everything, right?
This is also the first time I could actually thank technology for helping me solve the mystery of the missing luggage.
My husband had just purchased four Apple AirTags and gave them to me as a gift for this trip
At first I rolled my eyes. Great. Another gadget. AirTags are little round tracking devices designed to help you keep tabs on things like keys, wallets or, in this case, luggage.
I reluctantly put one each in our checked luggage and the other two in our carry-on backpacks.
Little did I know these things would not only give me peace of mind but also do the detective work for the airport’s baggage claim department.
We didn’t realize it at the time but when we checked in with Delta Airlines at Orlando International Airport the airline had only checked our bags to JFK Airport in New York and not Athens, Greece. We clearly told them our final destination was Athens but I digress.
Had we looked at our baggage claim tickets before we tucked them away in our passport holders, we would have seen that mistake immediately. It wasn’t until about 17 hours later we realized what had happened.
When our luggage didn’t arrive in Athens there was a slight panic because in about 3 hours we were going to hop on a Sky Express plane for a quick 50-minute flight to Santorini.
After waiting about 45 minutes and staring at the luggage carousel, I remembered the AirTags.
A few clicks on my iPhone and my heart sank because our bags were pinging in New York.
Good thing I don’t use cuss words. But my husband does and did.
Nonetheless, we hop on the flight to Santorini and immediately explain our dilemma to the Delta agent. Good news. It was Sunday, so they would put the bags on a flight from New York to Athens to get it to Santorini by Tuesday.
Tuesday morning I checked my AirTag app and sure enough, our bags have arrived in Santorini.
Back at the airport, the woman at the Sky Express counter tells me she has no record of our luggage ever leaving New York.
The following is the exchange I had with her:
Me: My AirTag is pinging and telling me it’s in Santorini. I think it’s accurate because it also showed me when it was in New York and Athens. Now it’s pinging here.
Woman: When was the last time it told it was here?
Me: 9:02 this morning. (current time 10:15)
Me: 150 feet away. It’s leading me down this hallway and past some elevators and is pinging behind those walls.
Woman: May I see your phone?
(I hand it to her and she disappears behind a wall)
Woman: It says it’s in this room where we keep our luggage but there are only a few bags in there and none of them match the bags you’re describing.
As it turns out our bags were in a room one floor below where we were looking.
Finally reunited with our luggage thanks to technology.
If I didn’t have those AirTags, I would have no choice but to believe our bags were still sitting somewhere in New York.
I didn’t think this would be a love story but turns out I love my AirTag and my husband for his perfectly-timed gadget, I mean gift.