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False Rumor of Lufthansa Ban on Apple Tracking Device Makes the Rounds

Portable Tracking Device Allowed on Checked Baggage Per TSA, Lufthansa

Lufthansa saw a brief rash of rumors regarding the airline's approach to the Apple tracking devices known as "AirTags". 

The tech is a compact, lightweight, battery powered device designed to attach to personal belongings to prevent their loss or theft wherever they travel. Passengers flying with the airline began to report that Lufthansa, in stereotypically Germanic adherence to regulation, had required them to remove batteries from the trackers before checking their baggage... defeating the purpose of a having a tracker to begin with. 

Lufthansa addressed the rumors and stories, hopefully putting the idea to rest with a statement that said their own risk assessments had shown a very low battery risk for the devices. Specifically, the airline said that they have never issued a ban on the devices, making it likely that the rumors have some root in individual employees interpreting regulations at the ground level. Lufthansa seemed vexed by the new products, a recent addition to the tech ecosystem, saying that any regulation regarding the lithium battery-powered devices in the cargo hold is a problem for ICAO and similar governing bodies. The TSA was, surprisingly, quick to address this one, granting explicit permission to carry AirTags in checked and carry-on baggage through the AskTSA Twitter account. 

Under a strict interpretation of ICAO rules, battery devices like AirTags are probably not appropriate for carriage outside the pressurized passenger cabin, though regulations were aimed at larger items like phones, tablets, or laptops. Given the Samsung Galaxy fire fiasco some years back, airlines have been cagey about slackening on battery carriage rules, fearful that any new whiz-bang device carries a battery failure risk that will result in a hard-to-fight inflight fire. Despite all the talk about the product, AirTags aren't technically a fire risk to begin with. The apple devices operate on a CR2032 battery cell just like watches, garage door remotes, automotive keys, and the like. Other devices, like the Apple Watch, have a more traditional lithium ion battery that may be prone to swelling and damage, making the concept believable for a ground agent to make. 

So for now, AirTags users are back in the clear at home and abroad, safe in the knowledge their luggage can be adequately protected en route. Whether or not it's waiting for them at their destination, well... no promises. 

FMI: www.lufthansa.com

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