Traveling can be stressful enough without having to worry about your luggage getting lost or delayed. That’s why more and more travelers are using Apple AirTags to keep track of their checked bags. But can you actually use an AirTag in your checked luggage?
Here’s a comprehensive guide on flying with AirTags, TSA regulations, privacy concerns, and tips for keeping your bags traceable during your travels.
What is an AirTag and How Does it Work?
An AirTag is a small, round tracking device developed by Apple. It uses Bluetooth technology to connect to the Find My network, allowing you to locate missing items through the Find My app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
Here’s a quick overview of how AirTags work:
- AirTags contain a user-replaceable CR2032 coin battery that lasts for approximately one year. Get more details on how long AirTag batteries last.
- When an AirTag is in range of an Apple device, it sends out a secure Bluetooth signal that relays its location.
- The location is then updated in real-time on the Find My app map, so you can see where your AirTagged item is.
- AirTags use Precision Finding technology to guide you directly to your lost item using audible tones and visual feedback.
- The Find My network leverages over 1 billion Apple devices to detect missing AirTagged items, even when not in Bluetooth range.
So in summary, by attaching an AirTag to your luggage, you can track your bag’s location anywhere in the world, as long as it’s in range of Apple devices that make up the Find My network.
Are AirTags Allowed in Checked Luggage?
The good news is yes, Apple AirTags are permitted in both carry-on and checked baggage by the TSA and major airlines.
Here are the key facts on flying with AirTags:
- FAA Approval: The Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed AirTags do not pose a flight risk, as they contain minimal lithium battery levels under 0.3g.
- Airline Policies: Most major U.S. airlines like Delta, American Airlines, and United officially allow AirTags. No airline bans have been issued.
- International Travel: AirTags are permitted in checked luggage on international flights per international airline regulations.
- TSA Rules: The TSA states AirTags are allowed in both carry-on and checked bags as “smart trackers”.
- EU Policies: European Union regulations also approve AirTags in checked luggage, with the batteries meeting safety standards.
So AirTags are cleared for takeoff in your checked bags on any airline. Just make sure the battery is properly installed and the AirTag is attached securely so it doesn’t get lost itself in transit.Shop AirTag on Amazon
TSA AirTag Regulations and Security Protocols
Since AirTags are permitted on flights, you’ll need to know the TSA rules and security screening protocols when traveling with them:
- During screening, bags with AirTags may need additional inspection to identify the device. Be prepared for this possibility.
- If questioned, let TSA agents know it’s an Apple AirTag used to track your luggage and permitted by the FAA.
- AirTags must be packed securely inside bags and not loose where they can be accidentally damaged or trigger alarms.
- If your AirTag is removed during screening, ask for a visual inspection and have it returned before your flight.
- Do not attempt to intentionally conceal AirTags or avoid declaring them if asked by TSA.
- Be cooperative during any bag searches and communicate transparently about your AirTag.
- Make sure your AirTag battery is properly installed and functioning to avoid troubles during scanning.
By understanding TSA’s security protocols, you can smoothly pass through screening with your AirTagged luggage.
AirTag Privacy Concerns and Prevention Tips
While extremely helpful for tracing luggage, AirTags have received some negative press around potential privacy violations and stalking if used improperly. Here are some key precautions to take:
- Only use AirTags you own paired with your own Apple ID. Never slip one into someone else’s luggage without consent.
- Be aware AirTags notify users if an unknown AirTag is traveling with them to prevent unauthorized tracking. Learn more about how AirTags work and when they beep to maintain privacy.
- If you get an alert about an unknown AirTag near you, follow Apple’s steps to identify it, disable it, and if needed, contact local law enforcement.
- Enable AirTag safety features like Show When Last Location Found to stay informed if someone is tracking you without permission.
- If lending an AirTagged bag or item, inform the borrower and disable location sharing temporarily.
- Never use AirTags to monitor people or vehicles without their knowledge and approval. This may be illegal.
While extremely rare, bad actors can misuse any technology. By using AirTags ethically and taking appropriate precautions, you can feel comfortable tracking your own items while respecting others’ privacy.
Where Should You Place Your AirTag in Luggage?
To maximize the tracking capabilities of your AirTag, optimal placement is key. Here are some tips on the best spots to attach AirTags in bags:
- Use a secure outer mesh pocket if your luggage has one. The AirTag will have the best connectivity to relay its location from outside the main compartments.
- Attach the AirTag to a zipper pull or clip it to a handle or strap with a keychain or luggage tag. Keep it in a noticeable spot for easy access if needed.
- For backpacks and small bags, clip the AirTag right to an inner loop or strap so it stays anchored if contents get shuffled around.
- Place in a outer or top compartment protected pocket to keep the AirTag with your bag at all times, even if inspectors unzip the main section.
- If your luggage lacks pockets, wrap the AirTag in socks or soft material and bury it along the bottom or edges to cushion it during transit.
Experiment to find what works best for your particular bag. The key is keeping the AirTag secure from getting jostled loose inside your luggage.
When Should You Pack an AirTag with Luggage?
AirTags provide maximum peace of mind when traveling in busy seasons or to problematic airports. Here are some prime use cases to consider:
- Vacation Travel: Tag all family luggage for trips involving multiple airport hops, connections, and destinations.
- International Flights: Attach AirTags when flying overseas in case bags get routed improperly through customs.
- Holiday Travel: AirTags help track down luggage with heightened risk of delays, cancellations and baggage issues.
- Cruise Vacations: Use AirTags as backup in case port transfers mishandle your bags separate from the ship.
- Flights to Problem Airports: Tag bags when flying through larger hubs known for baggage handling problems like JFK, LAX, LHR.
- Traveling with Irreplaceable Items: AirTag luggage containing valuables, medications, equipment that cannot be easily replaced.
While AirTags provide an added safeguard against lost luggage anytime, they offer the most value on higher-risk trips where bags are more likely to be delayed, damaged, or misrouted.
Finding Your Lost Luggage with an AirTag
If your bag does go missing, AirTags make it far easier to track down than trying to work with the airline alone. Here are tips for locating lost luggage with an AirTag:
- Open Find My app and select your AirTagged bag to see latest location on a map.
- Tap the directions button to activate Precision Finding and walk around with your phone to pinpoint your AirTagged bag.
- If Precision Finding indicates your luggage did not arrive at your destination, alert your airline while onsite with proof from your AirTag.
- Provide specific details on your bag’s location to airline staff to expedite search efforts.
- Check Find My periodically as your bag gets updated around the airport or return to the correct destination.
- Once found, immediately disable location sharing for your AirTag if lent out with your luggage to protect privacy.
Having real-time location data gives you the power to proactively track down your belongings yourself or assist airline staff in recovering your lost item much quicker.
Tips for Using AirTags Internationally
AirTags work great overseas, but follow these tips when traveling internationally with them:
- Confirm the Find My network provides adequate coverage in your destination to relay your AirTag’s location. Most populated areas will have coverage.
- Pack a portable battery backup in case you need to replace your AirTag’s CR2032 battery while abroad.
- Disable location sharing if lending out luggage with an AirTag to international friends or travelers.
- If your lost bag shows as located in customs, contact the customs office directly for next steps to retrieve it.
- When connecting through an international hub, track your AirTagged bags closely to confirm they made the flight change successfully.
- Research if your destination has any specific electronics import regulations that may apply to AirTags and prepare documentation.
While designed for global operation, take some extra steps to account for international travel intricacies when flying with your AirTags.
Key Takeaways on Using AirTags for Luggage
Here are some key tips to remember when using AirTags with checked bags:
- Confirm airline and destination country AirTag regulations, but most allow them.
- Attach AirTags securely inside bags in optimal spots for best connectivity.
- Be prepared for potential added TSA inspection and communicate transparently.
- Enable AirTag privacy protections and use ethically to avoid misuse.
- Leverage Precision Finding to zero in on lost luggage’s location.
- Proactively assist airlines in recovering mishandled bags faster with AirTag tracking.
- Monitor AirTag locations closely on international flights and transfers.
- Replace batteries before traveling to keep AirTags active throughout your trip.
Frequently Asked Questions About AirTags and Luggage
Can I use an AirTag in a checked bag on international flights?
Yes, you can use AirTags in checked luggage on international flights. International aviation agencies including EU and UK regulators permit AirTags as they meet battery safety standards. Always check your specific airline’s policies, but most allow AirTags globally.
How long does an AirTag’s battery last in checked luggage?
The CR2032 batteries in AirTags last approximately one year with normal use. Battery life may be slightly reduced in checked luggage depending on frequency of location requests, but most AirTags will remain active throughout your travels. Carry spare batteries when traveling long-term.
Can AirTags get damaged or cause issues in baggage handling systems?
AirTags are designed to withstand baggage transit environments, including X-ray scanning. Attaching your AirTag securely inside your luggage minimizes risk of damage. There are no reported issues of AirTags harming conveyor systems when packed properly in bags.
Do I need to disable location on my AirTag when gate checking a bag?
No, you do not need to disable your AirTag or stop sharing its location when gate checking luggage. Since the bag remains close to you under the plane and is scanned before loading, the location tracking is helpful if misrouted.
Can airports or airlines detect and confiscate AirTags?
Airports do not proactively scan for AirTags and airlines that allow them will not confiscate them. During baggage screening, an AirTag may prompt closer inspection but when identified will be cleared to fly. Communicate transparently if questioned.
What happens if my AirTag’s battery dies while my luggage is lost?
If your AirTag’s battery depletes before your lost bag is found, the last known location will still be available for tracking through Find My. Having the AirTag provides critical clues versus no tracking at all. Replace the battery after recovering your luggage.
AirTags: A Must-Have Travel Accessory
With airline baggage mishandlings at all time highs, keeping tabs on your luggage is more critical than ever when traveling. The versatility, global connectivity, and precision finding capabilities of Apple’s AirTags make them an ideal travel tech accessory. By using AirTags thoughtfully and ethically, you can protect your belongings and sleep better on your journeys knowing your bags’ locations are just a tap away.