The Federal Aviation Administration has officially stated that Apple AirTags are cleared for takeoff and that travelers can continue using the luggage tracking devices in their checked luggage without it being a safety issue. The explanation came after the German airline Lufthansa said last week that the Bluetooth connected devices were “classified as dangerous and need to be turned off” during flights, leading to widespread confusion.
“Luggage tracking devices powered by lithium metal cells that have 0.3 grams or less of lithium can be used on checked baggage,” the FAA said in a statement shared with AFAR. “Apple AirTags meet this threshold; other luggage tracking devices may not.”
So, while Apple AirTags have been given the OK, it remains unclear whether devices such as Tile and Dynotag pass muster. The best idea would be to check the amount of lithium in the battery before sending it along with your checked luggage.
Lithium batteries—which power personal electronics like cell phones, tablets, electric toothbrushes, digital cameras, hoverboards, and beyond—typically need to be turned off when put into checked baggage because damaged lithium batteries pose a threat of overheating or catching fire, according to research carried out by the FAA. However, Apple AirTags only have 0.1 grams of lithium, making them safe to fly with, the agency confirms—the smaller amount is unlikely to catch fire.
Lufthansa also tried to blame the “transmission function” of the trackers and stated that Apple AirTags are subject to “dangerous goods” regulations established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Apple, however, issued a statement shared with AFAR that the AirTags are “compliant with international airline travel safety regulations for carry-on and checked baggage” and also noted that the tags use the same technology as Bluetooth headphones, which are allowed.
Lufthansa has since reversed its policy. On Twitter, the airline wrote, “The German Aviation Authorities (Luftfahrt-Bundesamt) confirmed today that they share our risk assessment that 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.”
Apple AirTags and other baggage tracking devices soared in popularity this year, especially after a summer of sweeping travel-related chaos, where bags were frequently lost or delayed due in part to ongoing staffing shortages at airlines and airports throughout the world. According to the most recent Transportation Department’s Air Travel Consumer Report, more than 275,000 checked bags were “mishandled” (lost, stolen, or delayed) within the United States in July 2022 alone. Granted, it’s still less than the more than 300,000 mishandled bags in 2019, the last nonpandemic year.