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TrakDot locates your bags, or will it?

February 27, 2013

Lost and delayed bags is a huge and stressful problem for every traveler. And given all the tracking technology that exists today, it’s surprising that there aren’t better ways of keeping tabs on checked bags. Delta Airlines’ app allows passengers to track their luggage, using the number on the bag tag or a scan of the tag’s bar code, and most airlines offer at least a basic tracking tool on their Web sites.

GlobaTrac plans to begin selling a palm-sized device named Trakdot that you can place in your checked luggage and monitor your bag’s position, with some added expenses.

The device uses cell technology to figure out the city location of your luggage and it can either send a text message to you informing the location of your bag, you can go online and track yourself on their website or use their app for all smartphones to detect the location.

The device will cost $50, plus a $9 one-time activation fee and a $13 annual service fee. It is FCC and FAA compliant that senses the speed of the plane to deactivate during a flight, then will turn on once the plane slows down, thereby obeying rules prohibiting the use of cellular technology in the air. This is where we wonder how does this make the device FAA compliant? The plane would be “slow” during take-off and touch-down, and that is when you’re advised to turn off all electronic items. So we are hoping TrakDot goes in the sleep mode as soon as the plane starts to move out of the gate!

TrakDot at CES 2013

TrakDot at CES 2013

TrakDot does not use GPS location, but the company has its own wireless spectrum which will determine the location. This means that after a plane lands, you’d hope the device will turn back on while its on the two AA batteries, to be able to send a I-have-arrived message.
– What if you forgot to replace the batteries before departing?
– What if the device doesn’t turn off on a long international flight?

As we all know receiving text messages or accessing data networks internationally can incur huge charges, so if you have turned off your text messaging and data services while traveling you are almost out of luck. Almost? Yes. Because you can still access using their website and many airports have internet kiosks where you can access the TrakDot website and locate your bags. But, after clearing immigration (in case of international travels), one would go to baggage claim and hope for their bags to have arrived. In case if you don’t find it on the belt, you will be scrouging around for some internet kiosks to login to the website. So, basically, you either need a text messaging plan or data plan to be able to track the bags. This is the added costs that we referred to above.
– What if the airport doesn’t have any internet kiosks?
– What if the only option you have is get-your-bags-and-exit?

There are other questions and concerns you may have. Let us know and we will report more when we get our hands on the device. Check back for updates.

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