AirTag travelling with you oddity

This doesn’t seem quite to match any existing thread. It’s puzzling me.

I don’t have any AirTags and never have. I’m travelling around with a group of people, most of whom I’ve never met before. A few of them have AirTags. We are using two minibuses, always moving around together.

Today I had an “AirTag you don’t know is travelling with you” message. I activated its sound; it belonged to someone who had spent the day in the other minibus. At least one person in my minibus was carrying three or four of his own tags around with him.

Why should I have been alerted to the presence of the AirTag in the other bus? It seems bizarre.

Seems quite reasonable to me. As long as that other bus was within blue-tooth range for the required time (15 min?) it should count as traveling with you.

Yes. But why that one, in the other bus, and not one of the three or four in the same bus as me?

One thing that I’m starting to think about AirTags is that because they rely on Bluetooth for proximity detection and because Bluetooth is flaky, they may require more lengthy connection than would seem intuitive.

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Did the person with the AirTag you were warned about have his/her iPhone with them? If the AirTag is traveling with the iPhone of the owner, it should never warn another person who might be with them that there is an unknown AirTag traveling with them at all. If they didn’t have their iPhone with them, I wonder how many other people on the two mini-buses were warned about it? It should have been everyone with an iPhone.

We’re a bunch of photographers, so reasonably technically literate, and nobody has mentioned seeing the warning. It’s possible that the owner of the AirTag didn’t have his phone with him - good thought. I’ll ask him tomorrow. Certainly, the owner of the tags I wasn’t warned about did have his phone with him.

I’ve just spoken to the owner of the tag. He did have his iPhone with him, but (drumroll) his Bluetooth was switched off. It was switched on yesterday and I didn’t get another alert.

Conundrum explained, I think.