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A tag for the bag

A tag for the bag
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First Published: Sat, Oct 18 2008. 12 00 AM IST

Alarming: Locate your bag in the busiest airports.
Alarming: Locate your bag in the busiest airports.
Updated: Sat, Oct 18 2008. 12 00 AM IST
Imagine flying into Mumbai on a long-haul flight. It’s early morning, you’re groggy. All you want to do is grab your checked-in baggage and dash to the car. But destiny has other plans.
The crew shrug their shoulders when asked for immigration clearance forms. At the baggage claim belt, past immigration, you are informed that the bags will now arrive on a different belt. Even if arrival at the baggage claim area is not as dramatic, chances are the carousel is already creaking under the collective weight of a packed flight’s baggage.
Alarming: Locate your bag in the busiest airports.
A run to the toilet between immigration clearance and the baggage claim, too, can place one in this predicament. Suddenly, the baggage handlers heave bags on to the floor to ease the carousel—and then, all hell breaks loose. Being a first class or a business class traveller need not matter. Here, everyone’s equal.
Passengers (some airlines call them “guests” these days) routinely pull out bags and struggle to throw them back into the lot. Trolleys tip suitcases over. Multiple trolley traffic lanes form quickly in the race to get through the X-ray machine and to thrust the customs declaration stub (more about that in a separate column) into the palm of a local police constable hovering around the exit.
In short, the search for one’s checked-in baggage can be a demanding treasure hunt. Frequent flyer baggage tags provided by airlines may get fancier by the day, but they hardly stand out in a manner that helps locate a bag amid a sea of baggage. And, there is the ever-increasing probability of more than one passenger in a packed airplane carrying the same type of bag.
Road warriors now have an electronic weapon to fight this war. ETA’s Luggage Locator (www.etatravelgear.com), helps locate one or more bags at the press of a button on a small remote control that fits comfortably in your pocket, both in terms of size and cost. Somewhat like a remote-controlled car lock, a tiny radio frequency receiver that can be tagged on to the checked-in bags will beep aloud and flash a blue light when the remote control button is pressed.
The receiver can be fastened to the bags before checking in, and all one has to do at the baggage claim area is to press the remote button to listen and watch the beeping and blinking bags come along. Four different beep tones will help differentiate bags being sought by different locators, and this product promises to help you navigate baggage claim even on harsh nights in the worst airports.
Luggage Locator promises to work over a 60ft range. Each receiver is paired with a unique remote, and is reasonably priced at $19.95 (around Rs900), but a “pro” version, priced at $29.95, permits three add-on receivers at an additional $14.95 per receiver.
The product does not seem to be very widely available. For the Indian road warrior, buying online is the best option. One could order it at
www.ebags.com/eta, www.travelsmith.com,www.edwardsluggage.com,www.magellans.com,www.jcpenney.com.
In the era of airport security paranoia, if one were chary about owning bags that suspiciously beep and flash, a simpler but not-so-subtle option is the MyTag baggage tag. These tags comprise bright nylon strips, 1.5 inches in width and 7 inches in length, with any chosen name sewn on in large 1-inch block letters in bright colours. Available on www.tagsforbags.com, three MyTag bag tags will set you back by $29.99; each additional tag costs $10.
Indeed, MyTag seems low-end, compared with the Luggage Locator. However, each of these products stands out in its own way. More so the electronic Luggage Locator, priced almost the same as the polyester MyTag, providing a fancier toy-like interactive interface. However, if you are someone who is content with tying a red ribbon around your baggage handle, this piece is not for you.
Sundaresan is a partner with JSA, Advocates & Solicitors. This column on business travel will appear monthly. Write to roadwarrior@livemint.com
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First Published: Sat, Oct 18 2008. 12 00 AM IST