Barcode luggage tags — Should you buy one?

Barcodes and QR codes have been used for years in automated luggage systems, helping airlines to keep track of your luggage.

Recently, they’ve also become available for consumers to buy. They are inexpensive, sturdy, and have some real advantages over traditional paper luggage tags.

This guide will give you a complete overview: What barcode tags are and how to use them, the pros and cons of barcode luggage tags, and our top 2 picks.

If you’re short on time — yes is the resounding result! If you are still using paper bag tags, QR bag tags are a huge, inexpensive upgrade that will dramatically increase the odds of you locating your luggage! Our favourite — the Dynotag — is available on Amazon Prime.

How to use a barcode / QR bag tag

These tags work in exactly the same way as the airline equivalent — but instead of providing a reliable way for the airline to track your luggage — you get the benefit!

barcode luggage tags scanning with cameraphone

QR codes have been around since the mid 90s, but their use has skyrocketed with modern smartphones. On-demand internet access and cameras mean that you no longer need a dedicated scanning device to scan the codes and access information.

QR bag tags don’t have any personal information, just a simple code.

01. Scan

Scan the code with your phone or smart device, and you will be taken to a unique webpage hosted by the QR tag company.

02. Enter your details

Fill in your user details in the same way you would fill in a traditional luggage tag.

03. Global access

If your luggage is ever lost, airline employees or even other passengers can scan the QR code, view your details and even put an alert that the bag has been found.

qr code covid passport luggage tag

QR codes are becoming increasingly popular, and are even touted to be used for Covid-19 passports

The benefits of barcode luggage tags

If you are unfamiliar with these devices I appreciate you may be thinking — it sounds like a more complicated way to access the same information as a paper tag — but there are several benefits!

  • Location tracking
  • Privacy
  • Reliability
  • Cost

Unlike their paper counterparts, barcode luggage tags require scanning to access. This leaves a digital footprint. As a result QR tags have the ability to let you know when someone has found your luggage and looked at your details.

They can also give you the location of where it was found. It’s not real-time tracking like GPS tags, but the ability to know that someone has at least found your luggage and where it ended up is a real benefit — for both returning it and your piece of mind.

Users that have found your tag can choose to share their exact location — giving you pinpoint details of where your luggage is — or the system will use their nearest location determined by cellphone towers and IP addresses. So, even if they decline to give you exact location details, you’ll know exactly what airport your luggage has ended up in!

In our guide to filling out luggage tags, privacy was one of the prime reasons for filling them in correctly. Far too many people give out personally identifying information which could put you at risk. Coded luggage tags guard your privacy in 2 ways.

Firstly, they simply add a layer of complexity — the second slowest gazelle theory. You don’t need to be the fastest gazelle to get away from the hungry lion, just faster than the slowest gazelle! With thousands of luggage tags openly displaying personal details and addresses, not having your information on display and requiring the time to scan the tag and visit a webpage is a deterrent.

The second way is more complex, QR tags like Dynotag actually enable you to switch on and off your personal data. So all the time your luggage isn’t lost, you can keep your privacy guarded. When the tag is scanned, it will show only the details you want shown. When you realise your bag is missing, simply update your settings and enable your contact information to be assessed.

Barcode luggage tags are frequently made from anodised aluminium, or tough polycarbonate, and will outlast any traditional paper or leather luggage tags.

In addition, location tracking, your personal details, and access to the tag itself is hosted on a secure database — not on the tag itself. This has several benefits over other smart luggage tags, like bluetooth or GPS.

There are no batteries to run out, the signal to your tag cannot be blocked, they are damaged by water or overzealous baggage employees. Barcode bag tags are virtually indestructible.

While GPS bag tags and even Bluetooth bag tags provide the gold standard of luggage tracking, they require ongoing investment in the form of batteries or GPS subscription charges. As a result both options are great — but more costly than QR bag tags.

QR tags are affordable to buy and have no ongoing cost. The upkeep of the online database is all paid for — for life — within the initial tag cost. There are no batteries, maintenance costs, or replacements required, and they will outlast paper tags.

The downsides to barcode luggage tags

With every product and device, there will always be trade-offs. QR luggage tags are no exception. There are two main downsides to using these tags versus GPS or Bluetooth bag tags, which you may want to consider.

  • Internet access required to view the owners information.
  • Tracking isn’t real time

While QR codes and barcodes no longer require special scanning devices, for someone to access your device they do need access to a smartphone or the internet to scan your tag. Our recommended barcode luggage tag by Dynotag has removed the requirement for a camera phone, as it provides a unique code and a web address so that if you are unable to scan the tag you can access the information via a computer instead, but of course, this still requires the internet.

This is unlikely to be a problem in a large part of the world, with most airports offering free Wi-Fi, but if you spend your time travelling to exceptionally remote parts of the world, or rural areas with limited internet access, paper luggage tags will be a benefit.

Dynotag’s come with a traditional paper luggage tag that fits into the aluminium tag. As a result, if you are travelling to a remote place, you can insert this and use it as a traditional tag luggage tag.

Many tags advertise themselves as GPS enabled QR tags. While this is strictly true, it can be confusing, and I want to make sure you are aware this doesn’t mean these luggage tags have inbuilt GPS or you will be able to locate them on demand.

Barcode style bag tags will only be able to show the GPS information of where they are when they are scanned by someone who has found your luggage. If your bag never gets discovered, or the tag is never scanned, you will not be able to locate it. If you want complete security over where your luggage is at all times, and real-time bag tracking then you should look at our guide to GPS bag tags.

The best barcode luggage tag

There are a wealth of QR code luggage tags to choose from, but our pick of the bunch is the Dynotag.

Affordably priced, and without any additional charges or subscription fees, Dynotag offer all major features in a sleek anodised aluminium luggage tag.

  • Amazon prime ready
  • Unlimited changing of your details
  • Variable privacy settings
  • GPS luggage locating
  • Backup paper insert card