DALLAS- Several reports have surfaced in recent days that Lufthansa (LH) has banned the carriage of Apple’s AirTag tracking device in checked baggage.
Because it allows passengers to track the location of their checked baggage after check-in, the small tracking device has become a popular addition to many travelers’ checked baggage contents.
Many of us have experienced the feeling of being at baggage claim when the conveyor belt suddenly stops and your bag is nowhere to be found. I experienced a similar situation earlier this year after arriving on a flight in Europe, and even before I registered my bag as missing, I could tell it was still at the point of departure.
When my bag finally arrived, I tracked its progress and was able to drive to the airport and describe exactly where my bag was in the airport to the airline agent who served me.
Airlines are starting to realize that this tracking device allows us to confirm that our bag is missing before we even leave the gate. A friend who is a captain in another major European carrier recently told me how he was preparing for a pushback and the cabin crew relayed an unusual message from a passenger on board.
He was told that a passenger claimed his checked baggage was not on board and needed to be loaded or he would unload himself. A situation that could easily turn a flight that was supposed to leave on time into a flight that is now delayed.
Role of IATA
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) sets the rules for what can and cannot be carried on board and publishes them in its “Dangerous Goods Regulations” manual. If an existing IATA policy is deemed insufficiently robust, airlines may make minor changes to their own policies. Regarding the carriage of portable electronic devices, Lufthansa’s passenger advice mirrors that of IATA.
Without going into detail about the battery that powers the AirTag, IATA policy unequivocally states that “devices in checked baggage must be turned off completely.” This phrase appears to be what Lufthansa uses to justify banning passengers from checking baggage with AirTag devices inside.
During the recent peak travel season in Europe, staffing shortages at airports and within airlines separated many passengers from their checked baggage. IATA’s dangerous goods rules for transporting portable electronic devices have not changed, nor has Lufthansa’s adherence to them.
Instead, it appears the German airline has simply lost patience with passengers who discover their luggage is missing before they reach their destination and have to deal with the resulting customer service nightmare.
Featured Image: Lufthansa D-AIMC Airbus A380-841. Photo: Julian Schöpfer/Airways