Backtracking by the airline on the AirTag restriction for checked bags

Due to alleged safety issues, German airline Lufthansa has reversed a ban it had placed on activated Apple AirTags and other Bluetooth trackers in checked baggage.

Lufthansa announced in a tweet that it was “banning activated AirTags from luggage as they are considered as harmful and need to be switched off” after speculations about the airline’s ban on AirTags surfaced last week.

Switches cannot be used to turn off AirTags. AirTags and other Low Power Bluetooth trackers used for item tracking are rendered useless because the only way to accomplish it is by removing the battery.

Since travellers may use luggage monitors to find out their bags aren’t on their aircraft before the plane takes off, they can be embarrassing for airlines.

The airline then tweeted in defence of its position, claiming that the prohibition on AirTags was in line with ICAO regulations on the “transmission function” of Bluetooth trackers.

“Baggage trackers are governed by the dangerous goods laws, according to ICAO rules. Additionally, if the trackers are in checked luggage, they must be deactivated during the trip owing to their transmission function and cannot be utilised as a consequence “a representative of Lufthansa wrote.

However, Lufthansa’s restriction and justification for it were flawed in a number of ways.

The ICAO reportedly admitted that it is not a regulator and “does not exercise an oversight function” over the airlines in The New York Times. While regulators and airlines adopt regulations, it only outlines what passengers may and may not do.

Regarding carry-on and checked luggage, Apple has said that AirTags “comply with international airline travel safety laws.”

Apple said that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) does not have standards for luggage monitoring devices and has instead centred its definitions on bigger devices with greater lithium batteries, such as phones and laptops. Tracking devices are permitted in both carry-on and checked luggage, according to the US Transportation Security Administration.

After consulting with the German Aviation Authority on Wednesday, Lufthansa’s PR staff ultimately verified in another tweet that AirTags were no longer prohibited.

“The German Aviation Authorities (Luftfahrtbundesamt) confirmed today, that they share our risk assessment, that tracking devices with very low battery and transmission power in checked luggage do not pose a safety risk. With that these devices are allowed on Lufthansa flights.”