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

Jun 27, 2022

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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
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.

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.

luggage airtag location
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.

luggage mess at Hamburg Airport
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 photo by Hauke-Christian Dittrich/Getty Images.

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