Oy: Air New Zealand Bans Apple AirTags

Oy: Air New Zealand Bans Apple AirTags

33

A few weeks ago, Lufthansa made headlines for issuing a statement about banning Apple AirTags. The airline ended up backtracking. Well, there’s now another airline that seemingly wants to go down this rabbit hole.

Air New Zealand claims AirTags aren’t allowed

Air New Zealand’s website indicated that battery-powered baggage trackers are only allowed in checked bags if they can be turned off. An Air New Zealand spokesperson has confirmed that this ban applies to Apple AirTags, though says that this may be reconsidered in 2023, as part of a safety review:

“As products such as the AirTag and Tile are portable electronic devices that cannot be turned off, dangerous goods regulations currently prohibit them from being carried in checked-in luggage. As part of Air New Zealand’s safety management system, a review of these products is likely to take place in early 2023. Following this, discussions with the regulatory authority may be undertaken.”

Oddly New Zealand’s Aviation Security Service, which is responsible for screening bags, has stated that it’s under no instruction to remove these trackers from bags. Furthermore, Jetstar, another airline operating in New Zealand, says passengers are welcome to use AirTags and other similar devices.

As far as enforcement of this policy goes, it doesn’t seem like Air New Zealand really has a plan for that. An airline spokesperson has stated that travelers are asked if they’re carrying prohibited goods when checking in, and if passengers say they are, they’ll be asked to remove them from their luggage before proceeding with the check-in process. In other words, this relies on passengers having the same policy interpretation Air New Zealand does, and volunteering that they have AirTags.

For those not familiar, Apple AirTags have become incredibly popular for travel lately. You can place them in your bag, and then it will track it throughout the journey. Given how unreliable airlines have been in the past couple of years, this is a way for travelers to take some matters into their own hands.

Air New Zealand has banned Apple AirTags

This is something regulators should address

It sure seems like issues could be avoided going forward if the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) issued clear guidance regarding Apple AirTags, and similar devices. The organization’s instructions for the safe transport of dangerous goods indicate that lithium batteries contained within devices are allowed in checked baggage, but the device must be switched off.

Obviously switching off an AirTag would completely eliminate the point of having it, which is to track your bag. Air New Zealand isn’t technically wrong, the company is just following ICAO’s guidance in a literal manner.

It’s worth noting that some national regulators have stepped in and clarified this matter. For example, in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has stated that AirTags don’t pose a risk:

Luggage tracking devices powered by lithium metal cells that have 0.3 grams or less of lithium can be used on checked baggage. Apple AirTags meet this threshold; other luggage tracking devices may not.

I’m inclined to believe the FAA here, and it seems like globally something should be decided one way or another, rather than each airline interpreting regulations as they see fit. It can’t be safe to check an AirTag on a Jetstar flight, but not on an Air New Zealand flight.

The AirTag issue should be addressed on a wider scale

Bottom line

Air New Zealand has become the latest airline to ban AirTags, though is seemingly not enforcing this restriction. The airline is interpreting the general restriction on lithium batteries in checked bags to also apply to AirTags. The airline isn’t technically wrong based on existing guidance, but this isn’t how the industry is overwhelmingly interpreting the current rules.

Hopefully ICAO and other global regulators issue clear-cut guidance on AirTags sooner rather than later (as the FAA has done), so this doesn’t keep happening. Then again, without enforcement, this restriction is only theoretical.

What do you make of Air New Zealand’s ban on Apple AirTags?

Conversations (33)
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  1. Richard Bayliss Guest

    Air new Zealand is a great airline but it's wrong not to allow Apple tags but it allows other devices such as your laptop (ect) in your luggage,
    So really the company needs to reconsider its rules about Apple Tags.
    Richard Bayliss
    Brisbane Australia

  2. Isaac Guest

    Given the impending start of the alaska airlines beta test of electronic bay tags…aren’t these the same thing as air tags but a different ecosystem of tracking? (Can’t wait to be part of this test next month).

    This isn’t about safety. It’s about knowledge and information ownership. Not to mention liability for the airline at plausible deniability being called out by the savvy traveler.

    Remember that the airline could claim anything with not...

    Given the impending start of the alaska airlines beta test of electronic bay tags…aren’t these the same thing as air tags but a different ecosystem of tracking? (Can’t wait to be part of this test next month).

    This isn’t about safety. It’s about knowledge and information ownership. Not to mention liability for the airline at plausible deniability being called out by the savvy traveler.

    Remember that the airline could claim anything with not providing clear accurate data on cancelations. Then expertflyer came along and empowered travelers to get the right info.

    This is no different but wrt luggage.

  3. Kevin Guest

    Just use a Samsung Smart Things Tag then, most likely check in associates will ask if you have an Apple Tag and if you are using Samsung Tags, you technically aren't lying so you can get away with that. A further benefit is that a larger majority of the world uses Samsung devices over Crapple so you should have a much better chance of locating your luggage.

  4. Robert Charles Guest

    It makes no sense especially since airlines are currently misplacing luggage.

  5. Frequent Flyer Guest

    Just email the dangerous goods folks at IATA. Dave Brennan is extremely helpful.

  6. Santastico Gold

    This is a very stupid decision based on nothing. That’s why they say they will review it in 2023. Based on what? It is corporate BS. I will always have AirTags on all my bags. Good luck Air New Zealand. I never flew on your planes and don’t plan to in the near future.

  7. Tony N. Guest

    These airlines have us by the throat. They are in command.

  8. TRA Guest

    BCT… trust the FAA? I think we did that with the 737 max … that didn’t work so well.

  9. NSL14 Guest

    Quite simply, I will not fly on an airline that doesn't permit me to put Apple AirTags in my luggage.

    Apple AirTags are not a safety risk and with the rank incompetence of the airlines to deliver our luggage to us without damage, on time and in the correct location, Apple AirTags or their equal as essential for travelers to use in their checked luggage.

  10. Bob Guest

    And yet the batteries in Airtags aren't actually lithium...

  11. Phillip Gold

    Isn’t this one for Apple to take forward rather than the authorities in terms of demonstrating safety?

  12. frrp Member

    Can they actually tell if its in there?

    1. Tom Guest

      Yes they can. Not at checkin, but once a tag is out of bluetooth range of ot’s owner for 15 minutes, antistalking apps can detect it and make it beep.

  13. TravelinWilly Guest

    If all airlines tried to ban Air Tags, the entire checked baggage system would come to a screeching halt due to the amount of Air Tags airlines/security would need to A) Try and find from an X-ray scan, and B) Then try and find once they open checked luggage, because NO PASSENGER IS GOING TO COMPLY WITH THIS STUPID ATTEMPT AT BANNING AIR TAGS, WHOSE BATTERIES POSE LITERALLY ZERO FIRE RISK, AND WHICH ARE AWESOME...

    If all airlines tried to ban Air Tags, the entire checked baggage system would come to a screeching halt due to the amount of Air Tags airlines/security would need to A) Try and find from an X-ray scan, and B) Then try and find once they open checked luggage, because NO PASSENGER IS GOING TO COMPLY WITH THIS STUPID ATTEMPT AT BANNING AIR TAGS, WHOSE BATTERIES POSE LITERALLY ZERO FIRE RISK, AND WHICH ARE AWESOME TOOLS FOR THOSE WITH CHECKED BAGS.

    I'll be switching from coffee to tea, now.

    1. Tom Guest

      They can be detected with a simple antistalking app. The bag COULD then be separated form the others.

  14. Icarus Guest

    What about interlined bags from one airline to NZ ? Say you’re flying United to LAX and onwards to AKL and the bags are through checked ?

    It’s only of a customer mentions they have one that it’s a breach of the conditions of carriage.

    LH hasn’t banned them, so it appears NZ is the only airline worldwide.

    In addition I just checked the NZ website and you would think they would have a banner in their homepage. They don’t.

  15. Brandon Biden Guest

    Ben,
    you "borrowed" my "Oy" typical commentary
    Its all good, we love OMAAT!

  16. Never In Doubt Guest

    Morons.

    AirPods, MagSafe wallets (& batteries?) all have similar tracking functionality and can’t be “turned off”. Are they going to ban those too?

    As with the Lufthansa nonsense, this will just be ignored.

  17. Jeffrey Chang Guest

    Just pack a firearm in your suitcase and if they lose it file a report with the FBI, the airport police, the TSA Inspector General, and contact local news outlets.

  18. Former Air Middle Earth Flyer Guest

    Goodbye Air New Zealand! From your subpar business class to not allowing bag tracking, I will be moving to other airlines for my frequent Oceania travels.

    Instead of unfounded bans, airlines should be proposing a (real) alternative. ICAO should put their foot down and if AirTags are safe, to allow them. I think the sample size of AirTags flying around has affirmed non-scientifically that there is no operational or safety impact to flight (subject to...

    Goodbye Air New Zealand! From your subpar business class to not allowing bag tracking, I will be moving to other airlines for my frequent Oceania travels.

    Instead of unfounded bans, airlines should be proposing a (real) alternative. ICAO should put their foot down and if AirTags are safe, to allow them. I think the sample size of AirTags flying around has affirmed non-scientifically that there is no operational or safety impact to flight (subject to scientific validation).

    For reference, Lufthansa had e-tag bags for years (and in theory to this day) in/on bags for years without issue, with much larger electronics.

    @scudder For the time being, you can see the seatguru pages on the wayback machine, although I am looking forward to see what Ben may be aware of. Most of the alternatives I have seen are not as comprehensive.

  19. Tim Dunn Diamond

    It is more telling that so many ‘global’ airlines don’t have continuous baggage tracking via scanning each piece iof baggage at every point and providing that info to their customers via their app or website.

    1. Robert Charles Guest

      Delta Airlines does provide that service.

  20. Dan Guest

    Being unable to reliably track customers bags and then in turn banning customers from effectively tracking their own bags is everything you need to know about the state of air travel today.

    Air New Zealand would better serve themselves to either solve the problem or shut up.

  21. Scudder Diamond

    Of Topic, but Ben, could you maybe do a post on why TripAdvisor killed SeatGuru, and the best alternatives?

    1. Max Guest

      How did they kill it? I can still access it as usual.

    2. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Accessible, yes... but it hasn't been updated in quite some time, and as such is rather unreliable at this point.

      Nowadays many major airlines have introduced entirely new aircraft, subfleets, and/or cabin overhauls, but SeatGuru doesn't feature them.

      It's sad that this happened.

    3. NFSF Gold

      Killed how? It’s still accessible

    4. Scudder Diamond

      It's accessible as a zombie, but officially no longer supported or updated. Per TripAdvisor

    5. DCAWABN Guest

      I use aeroLOPA instead. The graphics are better and seems to be updated still.

    6. Michael Member

      https://www.aerolopa.com/ is a much better alternative to SeatGuru, though without the commentary on each seat. The seatmaps themselves, though, are much more detailed.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Scudder Diamond

Of Topic, but Ben, could you maybe do a post on why TripAdvisor killed SeatGuru, and the best alternatives?

7
TravelinWilly Guest

If all airlines tried to ban Air Tags, the entire checked baggage system would come to a screeching halt due to the amount of Air Tags airlines/security would need to A) Try and find from an X-ray scan, and B) Then try and find once they open checked luggage, because NO PASSENGER IS GOING TO COMPLY WITH THIS STUPID ATTEMPT AT BANNING AIR TAGS, WHOSE BATTERIES POSE LITERALLY ZERO FIRE RISK, AND WHICH ARE AWESOME TOOLS FOR THOSE WITH CHECKED BAGS. I'll be switching from coffee to tea, now.

5
Tim Dunn Diamond

It is more telling that so many ‘global’ airlines don’t have continuous baggage tracking via scanning each piece iof baggage at every point and providing that info to their customers via their app or website.

5
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