Back in August, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in Florida announced that it had arrested 19-year-old Giovanni De Luca — an airline subcontractor at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport — for allegedly stealing suitcases, one of which is said to have contained more than $15,000 worth of jewelry. The teenage pilferer almost got away with it too, except that one of the suitcase owners had stashed an AirTag inside, ultimately leading the authorities right to his front doorstep.
For the uninitiated, Apple AirTags are Bluetooth tracking devices that can find far away items thanks to the help of the hundreds of millions of Apple devices in the Find My network. Although the devices are controversial — there have been several instances of stalking using AirTags reported since they were first launched in April 2021 — the incident in Okaloosa was hardly the first time they’ve been used to foil a stolen luggage scheme. In fact, many — myself among them — would consider AirTags a travel essential given the current baggage crisis.
That said, at least one airline disagrees. Per a new report from Paddle Your Own Kanoo, German flag carrier Lufthansa is reportedly banning passengers from storing AirTags in their checked luggages, citing safety concerns, unless they are switched off.
“Luggage trackers belong to the category of portable electronic devices and are therefore subject to the dangerous goods regulations issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for transport in aircraft,” a spokesperson for Lufthansa told German publication Wirtschaftswoche last month. “Accordingly, due to their transmission function, the trackers must be deactivated during the flight, similar to mobile phones, laptops, tablets, etc. if they are in checked baggage.”
The ban will extend to Austrian Airlines, which is owned by Lufthansa, though — according to the report — no addendums have been made to either airlines’ website as of the time of this writing. Of course, passengers would still be allowed to stow them in carry-ons, but that would defeat the purpose. It’s also unclear whether or not other airlines will follow suit, but where there’s smoke — there’s fire. Maybe quite literally, if you’re checking AirTags, apparently.
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