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How an AirTag Saved One United Flyer’s Luggage

After United Airlines lost a D.C. flyer’s luggage, she credits putting an Apple AirTag in her bag as the key to reuniting her with her luggage.
When airlines lose luggage, it can create major headaches for passengers as they try to get their bags back. One United Airlines passenger says keeping an Apple AirTag in her bag was the key to getting hers when the airline didn’t have answers.


Washington, D.C.-area traveler Valerie Szybala shared her entire ordeal on Twitter, claiming the airline’s courier service refused to promptly reunite her with her bag.


Flyer Uses AirTag to Track Luggage Movement Before Confronting Courier

The issue began when Szybala returned from a trip to Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA) on Wednesday, December 28, 2022. Her checked bag did not arrive with her. As is customary, the flyer began a claim with United, who promised they would return her bag.


The next day, Szybala says United contacted her to say they found her bag and asked if she wanted it delivered. The bag was then transferred to the airline’s courier service, Couriers United, to bring the bag to her home. Her luggage did not return in a timely fashion – which is when she took to Twitter to do her own sleuthing with the help of an Apple AirTag checked with her items.


According to her account, the luggage instead ended up at a residential apartment complex. When she visited the location, she claims to have found other flyer’s empty luggage near the dumpsters. Her bag was not among them.




When she asked United for an update and shared her findings via chat, a United customer service agent responded by saying: “Calm down your bag is at the delivery service.” When Szybala pressed why her luggage was at an apartment complex instead of a distribution center, the agent didn’t have an answer.




From there, she started sharing the locations the bag was showing up at, including two shopping centers for an extended period of time. By January 2, 2023, after snooping around the apartment complex looking for answers, Szybala says she received a text from a courier asking to confirm delivery. She asked the driver to meet her near the apartment complex, where the driver was met not only with the flyer, but local news crews.


“Because of the AirTag tracking to this complex, I came down here repeatedly. At first, I just walked around to see if I could locate it,” Szybala told Washington, D.C. Fox affiliate WTTG-TV. “The third time, I called the police, I filed a police report [and] I found the bags out back.”


At the end of the day, Szybala credits the AirTag for ultimately reuniting her with the baggage after an extended delay. Her advice for other travelers: “If your bag arrives on a later flight than you and they offer to hold at the [airport] for pickup or deliver it, NEVER CHOOSE DELIVERY.”


A spokesperson for United told WTTG they are investigating the situation with their courier to understand what happened. The courier company has not publicly commented on the claims.


Firldeal January 18, 2023

My bag was recently delayed after arriving at my arrival airport.  I flew Delta.  Now they track bags upon leaving the airport to arriving at my home address.  Couldn't be happier when it arrived the next day!

mandolino January 8, 2023

From a UK perspective, since I live 10-20 minutes from my local airport, I would choose to pick it up at the airport.

However, for courier delivery, what I have noticed over the last twenty years is a big shift from sending delayed/"lost" baggage out in small lots , in individual taxis or small vans, based on area of delivery, to putting it all in a single large van and using satnav apps to map out an ideal route.

This can result in many more delays, sometimes of several days,  after it reaches the airport as the van seems to head out of town first and leave my nearby premises until last.

Also, they are then in such a hurry that they (in the most recent instance, October 2022), just leave your bag on the doorstep and - maybe - ringing the doorbell. By the time I'd got the 10 steps to my door, the driver was already in his van and pulling out from the kerb. He never looked back.

jsds January 5, 2023

I use AirTags in my luggage. One bag made it on the plane this past Thanksgiving, and the other stayed +100' away. When I arrived, I knew only one bag was with me, but I saw that the other was in Detroit.


FrustratedTraveler January 4, 2023

It would be interesting to see some data on this, and whether it's the result of a single rogue employee, or a systemic issue.