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Lufthansa Changes Mind, Now Says Apple AirTags Are Allowed on Luggage

Saturday October 15, 2022. 05:30 AM , from Slashdot
Apple AirTags 'are allowed on Lufthansa flights,' Lufthansa announced this week — the opposite of their position last Sunday, remembers SFGate:
The airline insisted the tech was 'dangerous' and referred to International Civil Aviation Organization guidelines (set by the United Nations's specialized agency that recommends air transport policy) stipulating that baggage trackers are subject to the dangerous goods regulations. ['Furthermore, due to their transmission function, the trackers must be deactivated during the flight if they are in checked baggage,' Lufthansa added on Twitter, 'and cannot be used as a result']

Ars Technica reports on the public relations debacle that then ensued:
Outcry, close reading of the relevant sections (part 2, section C) of ICAO guidelines, and accusations of ulterior motives immediately followed. AppleInsider noted that the regulations are meant for lithium-ion batteries that could be accidentally activated; AirTag batteries are not lithium-ion, are encased, and are commonly used in watches, which have not been banned by any airline. The site also spoke with 'multiple international aviation experts' who saw no such ban in ICAO regulations. One expert told the site the ban was 'a way to stop Lufthansa from being embarrassed by lost luggage....'

Numerous people pointed out that Lufthansa, in its online World Shop, sells Apple AirTags. One Ars staffer noted that Lufthansa had previously dabbled in selling a smart luggage tag, one that specifically used RFID and BLE to program an e-ink display with flight information. On Tuesday, Apple told numerous publications that it, too, disagreed with Lufthansa's interpretation. It went unsaid but was strongly implied that a company that is often the world's largest by revenue would take something like air travel regulations into consideration when designing portable find-your-object devices....

Representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration said early this week that Bluetooth-based trackers were allowed in checked luggage. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said its regulations could 'not in itself ban or allow' trackers, but airlines could determine their own guidelines.

On Wednesday, Lufthansa walked back the policy under the cover of 'The German Aviation Authorities (Luftfahrtbundesamt),' which the airline said in a tweet 'shared our risk assessment, that tracking devices with very low battery and transmission power in checked luggage do not pose a safety risk.' This would seem to imply either that Lufthansa was acting on that authority's ruling without having previously mentioned it, or that Lufthansa had acted on its own and has now found an outside actor to approve their undoing.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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