AviationICAO’s Dangerous Goods Panel likely to make definitive statement on baggage tracker’s future next month.

Apple’s AirTag not quite good to go yet

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AirTag lets users keep track of personal items through the Find My app
AirTag lets users keep track of personal items through the Find My app

If you thought the confusion over the use of the Apple AirTag to track missing baggage at airports was over, think again.

The confusion started with Lufthansa’s tweeted response to an enquiry about the use of AirTag – and its safety status. The German airline earlier this month said it was banned, a decision quickly reversed, but that led to both aviation policy and standard-setter International Civil Aviation Organization, and IATA, weighing into the debate.

AirTag lets users keep track of personal items like their keys, wallet, purse, backpack, luggage, and more through the Find My app. It is powered by small batteries commonly found in (non-smart) wrist watches.

Technically, AirTag is included in a standard that covers devices with much larger batteries such as smartphones and tablets.

According to ICAO guidelines, baggage trackers are subject to the dangerous goods regulations due to their transmission function. They must be deactivated during the flight if they are in checked baggage and as a result cannot be used.

IATA says AirTag contains lithium batteries and emits a continuous Bluetooth signal. Like other baggage tracking devices, it falls under the category of personal electronic devices (PED) for regulations concerning its carriage by travellers.

IATA will seek clarification from the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel about the safety status of AirTag at a meeting on 22 November.

However, whatever decision is arrived at, ICAO’s recommendations are just that – recommendations – and it will be up to each sovereign state to impose the guidelines on airlines.

Depending on the outcome of the 22 November Dangerous Goods meeting, Germany may yet have to advise Lufthansa that the AirTag is not allowed in baggage.

Confused? Me, too.

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