In the future, aircraft passengers will officially be allowed to use location trackers such as Apple's Airtags or Samsung's Smarttags to locate their checked baggage. This was pointed out by a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Transport on Tuesday in Berlin.
The ministry has supported an adjustment to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), according to which the carrying of GPS trackers in the cargo hold of aircraft is now formally permitted.
Until now, there have been no clear specifications for the carriage of trackers such as Airtags in checked baggage. As a result, different airlines made different announcements to their passengers as to whether or not they could stow trackers in their suitcases. For a while, Lufthansa had assessed the mini-transmitters in checked baggage as a security risk and banned them.
According to the new ICAO rules, trackers are now allowed if the batteries do not exceed a lithium content of 0.3 grams. In addition, an output of 2.7 watt hours (Wh) must not be exceeded. The devices must still be protected from damage. All these criteria apply to common batteries such as CR2032 button cells, which are used in the Airtags or comparable trackers.
Continued strict regulations for larger lithium batteries
"For larger lithium batteries, the existing, strict safety regulations continue to apply," the spokesperson said. "They can overheat if damaged or subjected to particular strain and, in the worst case, cause fires." These devices are allowed to be transported in checked baggage up to a lithium content of two grams, but must be completely switched off. They should also not be in a state of sleep or rest. For safety reasons, larger lithium batteries would still only have to be carried in hand luggage.
Apple's Airtags, Samsung's smart tags and similar devices from manufacturers such as Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security and Pebblebee use Bluetooth radio to contact any neighboring smartphone that is compatible with the respective system. The GPS location of the smartphone can then be used to determine the location of the small mobile tracker.