A handy way to find your luggage
Affix the larger
(on the left) to any suitcase. Then when you press the
button on the smaller transmitter unit, the receiver will beep, to
help you locate your suitcase.
A possibly interesting and
useful idea - a radio controlled receiver that you put on your
suitcase. When you're trying to find your bag, simply
press the button on the transmitter. If the receiver is in
range, it will let out a loud beeping and flash a blue light to
help you find your bag.
Perhaps useful if you're at an
airport where bags come off on two carousels rather than one, or
when looking for your bag among many other bags in a big long
line of already unloaded bags, the Luggage Locator is reasonably
priced at $19.95.
A 'Pro' version allows the
transmitter to broadcast to multiple receivers simultaneously -
this is the more useful option for most of us, because most of
us travel with more than one bag, especially if we're not
traveling alone. It is priced at $29.95 plus $14.95 for
each extra receiver.
ETA Luggage Locator - What You
The Luggage Locator, made by
simply packaged, but with everything you need.
Inside the package is the
to be attached to a suitcase, the transmitter/control unit that you keep with
you, a battery for each unit, and two wire cables that can be
used to affix the units onto, eg, bag handles or whatever else you
wish to keep them with.
The receiver unit takes a
regular AAA battery. The smaller size transmitter takes a
27A type 12 volt battery. This is about half the length of
an AAA battery.
A simple sheet of
instructions is also enclosed.
The Luggage Locator comes
with a one year limited warranty that excludes airline damage.
What is Does and How it Works
Using the unit is simple and
Using the metal cable tie,
affix the receiver unit to the handle of your bag. When
you're checking your bag, slide the power switch on.
The cable tie is made out of
plastic coated steel and has a threaded connector to open or
close its loop. If you screw this tightly shut then the
receiver is, for sure, very securely tied to your suitcase
Be sure to keep the
transmitter unit with you. And then, when it comes time to
collect your bag, turn the transmitter on, push the
transmit/locate button, then listen and look.
If the receiver unit (and
therefore your bag) is within about 60' of you, it will detect
the signal from the transmitter and beep when it receives it,
helping you to then find your bag by listening for the beeping.
The beeping lasts for about
four seconds, and when you press the transmit button on the
transmitter, it transmits its signal for about 3 seconds, to
give the receiver plenty of time to detect and 'lock' onto the
signal and unique code within the signal.
Differentiating your Luggage
Locator from everyone else's
Each transmitter and
receiver have their own specific code, so when you press the
transmitter button, only your receiver is activated, not those
of everyone else around you with Luggage Locators too. At
present there are over 25,000 different codes being used, so the
chances of you and someone else being at the same carousel at
the same time with the same coding on your Luggage Locators is
The second helpful thing to
ensure you find your receiver and your bag is that each Luggage
Locator pair is given one of four different beeping tunes.
So if there is a second or third person next to you also
searching for their bags, hopefully their Locators will be
beeping differently to yours.
Differentiating your luggage
from everyone else's too
One helpful use for the
Luggage Locator is to identify your bag from the sea of other
similar bags as they come onto the carousel. The chances
are yours will be the only bag that starts beeping when you push
the transmitter; so no longer do you have to be pushing and
shoving to see the bags, and you never have to have the
embarrassment and bother of grabbing the wrong bag (it is always
a very heavy one) then having to heave it back onto the conveyor
again after realizing you took the wrong bag.
The Luggage Locator Pro
There is an exception to the
concept of the 'one receiver/one transmitter' pairing.
This is the unit known as the Luggage Locator Pro - a unit that
combines one transmitter with potentially more than one
This is useful if, for
example, you and your spouse are traveling with, between you,
four bags. Rather than having to buy four Luggage
Locators, and having four different transmitters, each working
with a different receiver you could buy a Luggage Locator Pro
(with one receiver and one transmitter), and then add three more
receivers to the unit, with all four receivers being activated
by the same code from the Luggage Locator Pro transmitter.
This greatly cuts down on
gadget clutter, and saves you a small amount of money as well.
The Luggage Locator Pro
costs $29.95 (compared to the $19.95 cost of the standard
Luggage Locator) and each extra receiver costs $14.95. If
you want to have two receivers, it is cheaper to buy two regular
Luggage Locators; if you want to have three or more, the Luggage
Locator Pro becomes more useful.
ETA say that they have
slaved as many as 60 receivers to a single Pro, so it could also
be useful if you manage groups, although imagine the cacophony
with sixty beepers all sounding off at the same time. For
normal people with something under ten bags, clearly a Pro unit
would be a good solution.
It is possible that, in
time, receivers could be damaged, broken, or lost - the Luggage
Locator Pro seems to make it easier to simply buy new receivers
as and/or when needed.
The unit is described as
having a 60 foot range.
There are actually two
issues when determining the range of the unit. The first
part is 'How far apart can the receiver and transmitter be with
the receiver still picking up activation signals from the
transmitter?'. The second issue is 'How far away from me
can the receiver be and still allow me to hear it beeping.
Receiver - Transmitter
The transmitter sends an
encoded message to the receiver in the approx 450MHz frequency
Like all radio frequencies
in these types of frequency bands, range is influenced by
physical obstructions. If there is no physical
obstruction, such that there is a visual path from transmitter
to receiver, then the effective range is easily twice the quoted
range of 60', and I've tested it outdoors working fine at
distances greater than 200'. If you have yourself between the transmitter
and receiver, the unit works marginally at 120' and reliably at
I tried also a test to see
how far the receiver would detect a transmitter signal with
obstructions inbetween, but gave up at 30' and three walls - the
beeping was no longer audible much further than that, which
leads on to the second factor in the unit's practical working
Audible alarm distance
There is no use having the
receiver detecting your transmitter signal if you can't then
hear the receiver's beeping response, telling you where to look
for your bag.
The distance at which you
can hear the receiver beeping will of course depend tremendously
on how noisy an environment you are in.
It is much harder to test
for what distance you can reliably hear the receiver beeping,
because there's no consistent standard for ambient/background
noise around you.
In the real world, and
noting the long range to activate the receiver, it seems the
distance you can hear the receiver is going to be the limiting
factor to its effectiveness, and choosing a 60' nominal range is
probably a fair sort of number to use.
Using the Unit
As I moved further away from
the receiver, I noticed that it would sometimes take longer to
respond to the transmitter signal. So - first suggestion -
hold your finger on the transmit button for several seconds at a
I also noticed, as the
distance increased, that sometimes the receiver would not detect
a transmitter signal if - in addition to any other obstructions
- I had myself blocking the signal too - ie, if I was facing
away from the receiver, and with the transmitter in front of me.
So, second suggestion, when searching for your bag and receiver,
hold the transmitter away from you and turn around regularly so
as to beam the radio waves directly in all directions.
Perhaps the most important
thing - third suggestion - when searching for your bag, is to
hold the transmit button down then to go walking around,
listening intently for the receiver's beeping. Maybe your
bag is here, maybe it is there, maybe it is in the process of
being carried away by someone else (!) and maybe it is somewhere
where you can't hear its beeps, so keep walking around.
Try and remember to turn the
receiver off after you retrieve your bag - and also try and
remember to turn the receiver on when you check your bag in the
first place, too!
After some thought, I ended
up instant gluing my receiver's on/off switch in the 'on'
position, because I was slightly worried that it might get
bumped off during the various handlings of the bag between
checkin and final bag receipt at the other end. This also
makes it harder for me to forget to turn it on and off - what I
do is normally carry the unit with the battery taken out and the
battery compartment door removed. I keep the transmitter,
receiver, battery, and battery compartment door all in a ziplock
bag; and so when activating the receiver, it is close to
impossible to forget to put in the battery and cover it with the
The transmitter unit uses a
non-standard 27A type 12V battery. It is unclear what type
of life this battery will give, but happily it is also not very
relevant. You only need to turn the transmitter on for a
minute or two when seeking out your suitcase; the rest of the
time, the transmitter can be turned off.
The receiver takes a
standard AAA battery, and battery life is of more importance for
the receiver. This is because you will turn the receiver
on when checking your bag, and it will stay on until after you
have retrieved the bag at your destination. Potentially
you could have the receiver turned on for 15 or 20 hours at a
time if you are on a series of long international flights.
The receiver battery is
rated at 100 hours by the manufacturer. When the battery
level is getting low, the blue light on the front of the
receiver will flash. I'm not sure how many remaining hours
of battery life there are when the light starts flashing, and it
is probably a less than desirable thing for you to have an
electronic device with a flashing blue light on the outside of
your suitcase in these hyper-sensitive to security times.
The unit tested to indeed
have a battery life in excess of 100 hrs, and (as electrical and
radio engineers would expect) is still sensitive and receives
signal with no problems even when the battery life is dropping.
Note that the range of the transmitter/receiver combination is
more strongly influenced by the battery state in the transmitter
rather than in the receiver.
With AAA batteries being a
dime a dozen (well, 50c or less each) my suggestion is to
replace the receiver battery prior to every trip or perhaps
every other trip if you travel regularly and can remember if you
need to replace the battery again or not. That way
you know that you'll have enough battery life to help you
through flight delays and other issues, for the completely
Where to Buy the Luggage
The Luggage Locator and
Luggage Locator Pro from ETA are both very new, having been released for
the first time earlier this year (2008) and as a result they
still don't have very good coverage in stores.
Annoyingly, we weren't able
to find a single website that sells both the regular Luggage
Locator and also the enhanced Luggage Locator Pro. If you
want just the regular Luggage Locator, that can be found at
Magellan's. If you want the Luggage Locator Pro
(our recommendation), that can
be found at
This is a handy little
device at an affordable price point, making it great as a gift
for the frequent travelers in your life as well as a nice little
indulgence for yourself as well. It is easy to understand
$19.95 for the regular unit,
or $29.95 for the expandable Pro version. We prefer the
Pro ourselves due to its ability to expand to manage more than
one bag/receiver per transmitter.
As long as you won't feel
self conscious making your bag loudly beep on the carousel, the
chances are you'll find this a good little gadget.
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Originally published 29 Aug 2008, last update
21 Jul 2020
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.