Lufthansa said over the weekend it was banning Apple AirTags from checked baggage, only to subsequently blame the policy on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
In a statement published on its Twitter account, the German airline responded to a request to deal with reports that Lufthansa had banned AirTags from checked baggage.
“Lufthansa prohibits activated AirTags in baggage as they are classified as dangerous and must be switched off,” the airline said said on Saturday.
Hi David, Lufthansa prohibits activated AirTags in baggage as they are classified as dangerous and must be turned off./Mony
— Lufthansa (@lufthansa) October 8, 2022
Asked to explain airline policy said“According to ICAO guidelines, baggage trackers are subject to the dangerous goods regulations. In addition, due to their transmission function, the trackers must be deactivated in flight if they are in checked baggage and therefore cannot be used.”
The policy appears to be unpopular with travelers who use Apple AirTags to track checked bags, as airlines occasionally misroute or lose bags — about 7 in 1,000, according to the US Department of Transportation.
There is speculation among travelers that Lufthansa decided to enforce this policy to avoid social media shaming of travelers whose luggage went missing.
Lufthansa did not respond to multiple calls and emails seeking comment on the rationale for the policy, whether the airline will enforce the policy and how it might do so.
According to Ethan Klapper, senior reporter for The Points Guy, a Lufthansa spokesman denied There is an AirTag ban. But that was a day before the airline said otherwise.
IATA and ICAO also did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Apple also did not respond to a request for comment.
Over the past decade, lithium-ion battery incineration in aircraft baggage compartments has led to restrictions on the types of electronic devices that can be carried in aircraft cabins and baggage compartments.
Apple AirTags, on the other hand, rely on tiny lithium-metal batteries, model CR2032 [PDF] to be exact. They contain an energy density of 198 milliwatt hours/g and 0.109 grams (0.0038 ounces) of lithium. As such, they are allowed in checked baggage in the United States under FAA rules [PDF].
Among US-based airlines, United Airlines has no problem with passengers using the tracking devices. “We have no policy regarding AirTags,” a spokesman said The registry.
AirTags also appear to be allowed under the rules formulated by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which are based on ICAO recommendations. The IATA regulation states that lithium metal batteries with a lithium content of two grams or less do not require a permit – therefore AirTags would be allowed.
Separate Lufthansa guidelines state that checked baggage can contain devices with integrated, removable batteries that have a lithium content of up to 0.3g – meaning AirTags should be allowed.
However, specific IATA guidance is required for “smart” baggage features such as GPS trackers [PDF]”That [portable electronic device] shall be equipped with at least two independent means of complete cutoff, cutoff of cellular or mobile functions, or a combination of both in the air.”
This is where Apple’s GPS trackers can break the rules: AirTags don’t have an on-device or remote-off switch — the battery has to be removed (or drained) to turn them off.
Whether or how Lufthansa intends to enforce this policy is not clear. Removing AirTagged bags from flights certainly seems to evoke ill will from customers. We will update this story when we hear from Lufthansa. ®
https://www.theregister.com/2022/10/10/lufthansa_airtag_ban/ Lufthansa bans Apple AirTags on checked baggage • The Register