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This traveler knows where his bags are, but the airline can't find them

June 27, 2022
5 min read
yellow suitcase rolling
This traveler knows where his bags are, but the airline can't find them
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It’s been more than a week since Matt Manes' flight landed in Spain without his luggage, yet he still doesn't have his bags. He would be inclined to declare it a lost cause, but he believes he knows exactly where the bags are thanks to his Apple AirTags. He just can’t seem to get anyone else to locate the bags.

Manes, who lives in South Florida, is currently on a six-week trip across Europe with his family. He booked a flight from Copenhagen to Mallorca, Spain, aboard European carrier Vueling using the Iberia website. He was hoping his Oneworld status (he has American Airlines Executive Platinum status) might afford him at least some ancillary benefits on Vueling (but it didn’t, he said).

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After he “heard about all the craziness” at European airports through TPG’s coverage of staffing challenges and long wait times, Manes said he got to the airport early and checked his family’s three bags. All things considered, the trip itself went pretty smoothly — that is, until they got to the baggage claim in Spain.

“We wait for our bags, and ... nothing,” Manes told TPG in an interview Saturday.

Manes said he filed a claim with the airline at the baggage claim in Mallorca, and expected it would be a drawn-out process. Then, he remembered something.

“I go, wait a minute, I put AirTags in each of our suitcases,” he said.

Matt Manes' family traveling in Copenhagen before their luggage turned up missing. (Photo courtesy of Matt Manes)

Related: Are Apple AirTags the best new travel accessory?

TPG has reported on how Apple’s tracking devices can be helpful for keeping watch over your luggage from afar. The devices use Bluetooth technology to ping nearby Apple devices giving the AirTag owners a location for whatever it is they’re tracking.

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Sure enough, on his phone, Manes could see the bags sitting somewhere in or around the Copenhagen Airport terminal.

“I’m like — look!” Manes said, describing how he showed Vueling officials his phone.

Matt Manes' Apple AirTags appear to be at Copenhagen Airport, from which he departed. (Screenshot by Matt Manes)

“They sort of found that interesting and basically said, ‘Well, they’ll probably find them tomorrow and we’ll take it from there,’” he recalled.

That’s not what happened, though.

Days went by with no sign of the bags, and no word on when they might show up. Checking his AirTags “10 times a day,” Manes said they’ve barely moved; they are still sitting at Copenhagen Airport.

Even when he calls Vueling customer service and is allowed to speak with a human representative, he said no one can help ultimately solve the problem.

Related: 7 steps to take when the airline loses your luggage

Determined not to let hours of his trip waste away on the phone with the airline, he even drove 45 minutes each way from his family’s Airbnb to speak with Vueling representatives at the airport Friday and again Monday. Even that didn’t seem to help — when he checks the AirTags, the three bags still are in the same place.

All the while, he estimates his family has spent at least $1,500 on new clothes and other products needed to get them through their European trip; they’ll soon be headed to the Spanish island of Ibiza.

Travelers have run into problems with luggage in many parts of Europe of late. This photo shows the situation last week at the airport in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Jonas Walzberg/picture alliance/Getty Images)

“If I didn’t have the AirTags in the bag, I’d just think they were lost,” he said. “Because I know where they are, it’s just so interesting and crazy.”

While holding out hope that someone will finally discover the bags he’s been tracking for more than a week, he’s considered booking a trip back to Copenhagen to retrieve the bags himself. That's obviously not an ideal option for many reasons.

TPG reached out to Vueling over the weekend hoping to learn why the carrier has not been able to locate Manes’ bags despite him sharing their location with multiple representatives. We also asked what customers should do if they find themselves in a similar situation. An airline official indicated they would respond within one to two days; at this point, we are still awaiting Vueling’s response.

Featured image by dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more