Following the baggage tracker drama with Lufthansa about the ban on using Apple’s AirTags, fellow Star Alliance member Air New Zealand is almost following suit. On its website, the flag carrier categorized baggage trackers under lithium battery-operated devices and has advised passengers against using them.

With the chaotic mixture of a staffing shortage, surging passenger demand, and ramped-up flight schedules, the global aviation industry has been quite overwhelmed this year as it entered a post-pandemic recovery era. Simply put, the resources within the industry could not keep up with the increasing demand, and one consequential result was having almost 220,000 bags mishandled in April 2022 alone.

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Passengers became stressed out without knowing where their checked baggage had ended up, and vacation moods were often spoilt. And this is why baggage trackers such as the AirTags, the Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker, and the LandAirSea GPS Tracker have risen in popularity. These devices are especially useful in relocating passengers’ misplaced baggage within overwhelmed airports, making it easier for passengers to attempt with airlines to get it back.

Besides being relatively wallet-friendly, these baggage trackers are also small. so placing them in passengers’ bags is not a hassle. It also does not affect the weight of passengers’ checked baggage much. Using such devices also doesn’t require much effort on the user’s part, as it simply needs to be turned on and have a Bluetooth connection with a respectable distance, and the item remains tracked.

Why is Air New Zealand not a fan?

Given these baggage trackers’ usefulness, passengers are always a fan. Airlines, however, such as Air New Zealand, are mainly not. It is worth noting that most portable electronic trackers are powered by coin cell batteries, basically batteries made from lithium. This already raises a red flag regarding safety and security for the airline.

According to the airline, since the baggage trackers must remain turned on and consistently send Bluetooth signals, such devices are still considered a safety hazard. The airline said:

“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.”

However, Air New Zealand might have learned a lesson from Lufthansa: to not jump to conclusions so quickly with an immediate ban. Instead, the advisory from Air New Zealand states that although passengers are not entirely prohibited from using tracking devices, trackers with an automated on/off feature cannot be used in flight. It is allowed if passengers have a tracker that can be manually switched off.

An Air New Zealand Boeing 787 jet lands at Kingsford Smith International on April 30, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.

Photo: Getty Images

What does this mean for passengers?

Admittedly, turning off such devices renders them completely useless and defeats their sole purpose, so it does seem quite a beat around the bush. And if passengers are curious if Air New Zealand might change its mind just like how Lufthansa did, the answer is probably no. Instead, the flag carrier plans to review such devices early next year, commenting:

“As part of Air New Zealand’s safety management system, a review of these products will likely occur in early 2023. Following this, discussions with the regulatory authority may be undertaken.”

However, there is no clear indication of how Air New Zealand intends to enforce or uphold this advisory. New Zealand’s Aviation Security Service has also not received instruction from airlines or regulatory authorities to screen or remove such devices from bags. Essentially, passengers could still use the devices without getting caught.

What do you think of airlines not favoring baggage tracking devices? Do you believe such devices indeed pose a safety threat during a flight? Let us know in the comments below.


  • Air New Zealand, Boeing 787, Paint issue

    Air New Zealand

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Auckland Airport, Christchurch Airport, Wellington Airport

    Year Founded:

    Star Alliance

    Greg Foran

    New Zealand


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