Airline Luggage and Airtags

@MacSparky released a Blog post yesterday regarding the named topic.

And I like to take the chance, to give some more informations regarding this.
I know it is convenient to be able to track the luggage, but there are technical reasons for a current legislation, that ban those trackers from almost all Aircraft.
The operation of a Modern Aircraft trusts on a wide range of different data gained by different technologies and sensors all around the Aircraft.
A lot of operations work with the measurement of Radio Signals, and the differences between them. Among those are for example the Radio Altimeter, the Instrument Landing System, the Navigation System and a few more.
With a working radio signal aboard the Aircraft, not belonging to its own infrastructure, those signals could be disturbed, and therefore getting completely lost, or worse, be just wrong.
Therefore it is a current (almost worldwide) legal regulation, that at least during certain phases of the flight, all transmitting devices has to been switched of completely, or at least been set in a flight mode.
That is not possible, with an AirTag inside the Baggage Compartment.

That is the reason, those devices are banned, while not switched off, from almost ALL flights.
It might be inconvenient, not to know the exact position of your Bag, but it is a lot more inconvenient, if you know your Bag to be on board, but missing the RWY, during a Bad Weather Approach by a Mile, because of your AirTag the Plane “thought” to be 300’ higher, as it actually was.

Of course it is a major problem, that a lot of Airline Passengers seems to have the impression, that laws only belong to everybody else, and that a lot of Airline Customer Services (and Managements) don’t have the Stand, to fight those legal requirements, even if they are inconvenient for their passengers.

Sorry, but this informations are simply wrong!
The CR2032, that is build in with the AirTags, contain way less than the maximum permitted amount of Lithium, that is permitted acc. to the Dangerous Goods Regulations.
The reason, that this is carried across several Websites and Newssources is simply the sheer ignorance of all people giving interviews and notes like that, for the real problematic.

I am not quite sure this is true, I have boarded many airplanes where they explicitly say that you don’t need to turn off your device or put it on airplane mode during all phases of the flight. Also some flights allow users to use Wi-Fi inside the airplane. To my understanding Wi-Fi has more signal power than Bluetooth.
I completely understand that there were regulations banning electronic devices during take off and landing, but it seems they are changing those regulations with time.


The only authority on such things, if you recall this thread Bluetooth on a plane w/ iPhone ...? - #17 by Ulli

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My expertise is, that I do this for a living, that I was among those who brought up the problems with Lithium Batteries within Consumer Products, and the danger of PED, to the attention of the Airline Industry, and that I participated actively in different Legislative procedure to this, and some other Rules and Regulations regarding the Airline Industry, both on level of ICAO and EU-Regulations.

This is simply wrong!

You should start get your Information from real first hand source like laws and Passenger Terms and Regulations by the different Airlines, instead of relying on some bad informed news sources or Customer Relations Specialist, who don’t care for the safety of a flight (simply not their Business) but get up the a… of every complaining Passenger, and send every Unruly a bottle of wine and some extra Miles, just to get rid of a complaint within Twitter or similar.

Just to let you know, there are in the US even “Newssources” with “numerous quotes in their articles” who still claim that TFG won some kind of election!
Just a Newscompany is reporting it, does not make anything real!

And, in addition, if you just read what you cited, there is nowhere an information, that AirTags ARE allowed. In fact it is also within your citation very clear:

There is really nothing unclear in any kind of way about that!!
As long as a “BLE” contains a Battery, and it is within the Checked-Baggage, it has to be switched off!
A violation of that could end, depending on the country, with a 5-digit-fine and/or Jailtime or even a couple of hits with a Whipe or a Cane, if no accident is caused by it.

P.S.: And Yes, within a lot of reliable sources, it is about the battery, but this is not because of the dangerous of the CR 2032 Battery (and similar to other devices), but because the Industry could cover both problems with only one regulation, and without pointing out too much the problem of the radio transmissions causing operational problems.

You have to distinguish between Carry-On-Baggage or On-the-Body or checked Baggage.
There are already Aircraft equipped with an own Cellular Network, that is able to get the transmissions down to a minimum, and therefore allows the usage of a cellphone or similar during certain parts of a flight.
Without this, the legislation still requires to switch of all electronic devices by entering the Airplane, however, many Airlines are circumnavigate those legal regulations at least during Boarding, to get the number of Passenger complaints down. Also a lot of Cabin Crews are just retired to get into those discussions with the Passengers on every flight, while they unfortunately often get no Backup by the COC-Crews on this, and while they must report to their Management about every (unjustified!) passenger complaint about that.

In any case, ALL electronic devices have to be switched of completely if the Airplane is prepared for an Automatic Approach and Landing during Low Visibility Conditions, and it is very vise to follow this rule, because the COC-Crew will see the ground with a CATIIIB-Approch at the moment the Main Gear touches down, and if there was a disturbance of the system by an still switched on PED, there is nothing you can do, as a Crewmember, if those what you see at this moment is not the Centerline Marking of an active and free Runway.
For myself I normally initiate a Diversion, instead of doing a “real” CATIII-Landing under these circumstances in our days.

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It looks as if they’re not banned after all:


The NYT has an article that would seem to indicate that they’re okay, citing pretty much everybody that would be relevant at least for US carriers:,which%20are%20permitted%20on%20flights.

And Tile’s site:

And of course the TSA Twitter account, whose sole reason for existing is to explain the byzantine rules around what can and can’t be put in bags on a plane, thinks they’re fine:

But just from a corporate standpoint, it would kind of boggle my brain if Apple hadn’t actually checked that before launching the product, and if both Apple and Tile were making statements that were in clear violation of every law, everywhere, regarding checked bags.

Whatever the legal status, though, it appears that TSA hasn’t gotten the memo and is allowing them in bags. Travel bloggers all over the world are talking about how great they are for traveling – some thing I would not expect to be happening if TSA thought they were a problem.


Both, the Tile Support and the TSA are just wrong on that!
As I already mentioned, go to the first hand sources, not just some PR or Social Media.
The FAA, for example, is very clear on that:

When portable electronic devices powered by lithium batteries are in checked baggage, they must be completely powered off and protected to prevent unintentional activation or damage.

Regarding the spare Batteries, mentioned within the Tile Link also the FAA:

Spare (uninstalled) lithium metal and lithium ion batteries are always prohibited in checked baggage and must be placed in carry-on. When a carry-on bag is checked at the gate or at planeside, any spare lithium batteries must be removed from the bag and kept with the passenger in the aircraft cabin.

You can find similar regulations for example with United (Rule 23 F.3.g)

Southwest (last point on the site)

is pointing towards the TSA

Which are themself pointing back towards the first link from the FAA.

There are even companies, building so called “Smart Bags” and selling them with Indigogo and similar services, just to be surprised after the delivery, that those Bags are simply not allowed as Checked-Baggage. :joy:

The Social Media Team of the TSA, is not “The TSA”!

Oh, and BTW, just because the technology is called “Bluethoot LOW ENERGY” does that not have any influence on the danger of the Transmission.
They even increased the Range dramatically from only 10m with the original Bluethoot, up to (as proofed in 2016 by Silicon Labs) 200m!
And if you take a lock on the lower belly of a normal Passenger Airplane, you would be aware of the close proximity of the Baggage Compartments, and the Antennas of the various Aircraft Systems.

“Move along, nothing to see, move along…”

EDIT: Sorry, I did not realize that this already was shared above, given the fact that this discussion still is ongoing here… AirTags in checked luggage are no issue. Not for Lufthansa and not for the “Luftfahrtbundesamt” (german authority). :slight_smile:


It is not a problem, to carry them inside your checked Baggage, because of the small size of the Battery!
This was stated by my second post within this Thread already!
You are simply not allowed to carry them as checked baggage, while they are switched on and transmitting!
The big problem with that discussion, results from a lot of people talking about a lot of different things within this discussion, and as the Social Media Teams of LH and others, are primarily there to prevent any shitstorm, and not to enforce the regulations, they answer in a way, that their answers are partly even not wrong, but also do not proof the point of the “other side”!
And Sorry, but do you really name a website, that is stating:

It’s unclear why Lufthansa said that the Luftfahrtbundesamt shares its risk assessment of AirTags. The airline was explicit over the weekend that they considered the devices unsafe for flight, despite international airline regulations being clear about the matter.

AppleInsider contacted six Lufthansa flight employees in the US who are not authorized to speak on behalf of the company while preparing this story. Three thought that the ban was still in place, two didn’t know about the ban, and one didn’t know what an AirTag was, or how it worked. So, it’s not clear if the new guidance — or any information at all — has been promulgated completely.

A reliable source of information!?
It is even unclear, what they are refereeing to, if they speak of “Lufthansa flight employees”?
Flight Crews? Ground Personal? Employees of a third party, flying with Lufthansa?

I could not find any statement by the LBA about this from last week!
I could find the current legislation about that still on the LBA website (and BTW, the LBA is not able to change this legislation!)
And, as already stated, BLE is not a technology with a “very low transmission power”!
For LH, to approve those devices, they have to do test, to proof from a technical point, that the AirTags (with a certain Productnumber!) do not do any harm to all systems of the A/C if they are stowed in the Baggage Compartment while On. And this has to be proofed for every position of the Baggage Compartment!
LH even stopped, or altered, the Development of their own Smart Tags, they develop together with RIMOWA, because they were not able to proof so during the development!

Jeez, this is an English speaking forum, I posted an English article, which I did not read in its entirety (yes, could have done better). I am with you concerning those passages in the quoted article. But that does not change a thing.

What I was referring to was Lufthansa’s statement mentioned in that article.

This is being reported all over the place also in reliable German news outlets. I do not think that Lufthansa is lying here when whoever the person might be is saying that they contacted the Luftfahrtbundesamt. But, for sure, you are entitled to have doubts. If you want to be 100% sure, feel free to contact Lufthansa and/or the Luftfahrtbundesamt for the bits and pieces behind those releases.

This whole saga is an embarrassment for Lufthansa. They blamed “authorities” for their initial tweet “banning AirTags” and now an “authority” has “confirmed” that there is no safety risk. Job done, story over. (For me. :slight_smile: )

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I’ve just ordered a large consignment of tin foil hats if anyone wants one.


I think that’s the disconnect. The TSA has their rules about lithium ion batteries in checked luggage, but they’ve also expressly stated that AirTags are fine.

Whether they’re right or wrong, practically speaking, the TSA (a) knows these devices exist, (b) has scanning devices that should be able to detect them, (c) is explicitly telling the public that they’re okay, and (d) is consistently letting them through baggage screening.

Even if there’s a law somewhere that explicitly says otherwise, the TSA is rather clearly not enforcing it. And if it’s not enforced, it’s functionally irrelevant to the average person. :slight_smile:

So, if you are in an area with a weak Sheriff, who has no drive to enforce the law, this means to you there are no laws you “as an average person” has to follow at all!?
There is a name for a situation like that, it is called anarchy!

And, BTW, the TSA staff is not sitting in the Aircraft that, in the worth case, misses the RWY during the Autoland.
So it should be in the interest of every healthy thinking person, to follow rules like that, even if they are not active enforced by an authority, to protect the own live, and that of the fellow travelers!

They are not able to detect, whether the AirTag is active or off.
The AirTag is totally fine within the checked Baggage, if it is Off.
Do you expect the TSA now to open every bag with an AirTag, to figure out if it is active or not!?

I don’t get it?!
Why are, in almost every community, people like you, and the few Ones who support you with a Like, who think that ridding a personal attack is a valid substitution of otherwise missing Facts!?!
This is not a favorable behavior for a community like this!!

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Perhaps apocryphal, but Lord Keynes is purported to have said, "When I’m wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?”

Good advice never the less.

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Just noting that Airtags are always on, unless the battery is removed or dead.

No, I would expect the TSA - if these devices are as dangerous as you’re saying - to just outright prohibit them in checked bags. They already do that for a ton of other things, so it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Again, this is the entire mandate of this organization - to keep dangerous stuff off of planes.

Ah, but this isn’t one sheriff. It’s a department in the US federal government. Literally, the relevant government organization in the US - the organization tasked with enforcing the laws you claim are in place - doesn’t see a problem with AirTags.

That means that they’re going to be on planes, and if they’re a problem, then the airlines need to push on the TSA in the US to get them off the “okay” list. And as far as I know, that’s not happening.

Although this does raise an interesting question:

Given the fact that at least one major government doesn’t appear to agree with you, what information would it take, and from whom, for you to consider changing your mind on this topic?

As far as I am able to determine, there is no way to turn off an AirTag; it’s either “on” or has no battery. This applies to more and more devices these days. Modern MacBooks are never off, only “off”. The difference between on and off has become a spectrum of functionality and power use, rather than set of binary states.

I suspect that regulations will have to be updated to adapt to a rapidly changing world of technology and maybe we’ll see a “certified for checked baggage” standard developed.

If the RF emissions created by devices like AirTags are a problem for aircraft, then I (perhaps naively) do expect that such emissions would be detectable during a scan.

The only thing that’s clear to me in this whole messy situation is that there is a massive disconnect between what various governing bodies have committed to text and what the public is doing, and is being permitted to do. I suspect that AirTags’ rapid and wide adoption may get regulating bodies to make explicit statements about the use of trackers, as they do about other kinds of devices.

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Also if they were such high powered interfering devices I would
a) expect to be able to find my airtag in checked luggage when sat on the plane, which I can’t
b) expect everyone around me with an iPhone to be told that they have a tracker with them, which also they don’t.

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