Checked bag vigilantism is back on the table for passengers of Germany’s largest airline. Contrary to confusing reports earlier this week, Lufthansa is not banning activated Apple AirTags from customers’ luggage. The company says it came to its final determination following an assessment from the Germany Aviation Authority.
“The German Aviation Authorities (Luftfahrtbundesamt) confirmed today, that they share our risk assessment,” wrote airline spokesperson Christina Semmel to Gizmodo in an email on Wednesday. “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.”
The statement is a notable reversal from a few days ago, when the company’s official Twitter account made at least two posts suggesting that activated AirTags and similar trackers are dangerous when stowed in checked bags.
In response to those tweets, rumors grew that airlines, including Lufthansa, were set to enact a sweeping ban on tracking devices, mostly to save face amid a chaotic summer of lost and delayed luggage. And initially, the company’s response offered little clarity, deferring responsibility elsewhere. Semmel, the airline spokesperson told Gizmodo:
The Lufthansa Group has conducted its own risk assessment with the result that tracking devices with very low battery and transmission power in checked luggage do not pose a safety risk. We have never issued a ban on devices like that. It is on the authorities to adapt regulations that right now limit the use of these devices for airline passengers in checked luggage. We are in close contact with the respective institutions to find a solution as quickly as possible.
Yet aviation regulators and Apple weighed in to clarify the matter. In a statement shared with multiple news outlets, Apple said its AirTags are “compliant with international airline travel safety regulations for carry-on and checked baggage.”
The European Union Aviation Safety agency further told The New York Times that its regulation didn’t “in itself ban or allow,” tracking devices, but that airlines had the option to determine what they would permit. And the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that AirTags are allowed on flights with U.S. carriers, as they align with policies on low-powered wireless communication devices. In other words: If wireless headphones are fine, why wouldn’t Bluetooth trackers be?
Unlike devices with much larger, lithium-ion batteries which the FAA does consider potentially dangerous, the consensus seems to be that AirTags are safe for stowage. So go ahead, tag your bag and follow its progress from departure to destination. But be aware that though an AirTag isn’t going to bring your plane down, the technology does come with other dangers.