Airlines Ban Smart Bags That Lack Removable Batteries


Airlines including American, Delta and Alaska have announced restrictions on so-called smart luggage because the lithium-ion batteries found in many of these suitcases pose a fire risk.

The new restrictions by United States airlines are a blow to smart-luggage companies like Bluesmart, whose batteries are not removable. If United Continental and Southwest Airlines also enact similar smart-luggage policies (something they've already indicated will happen), then the bags will be subject to such rules in over 80 percent of US air traffic.

"The smart luggages have ionized lithium batteries, which could explode when put on board".

The popular travel bags often feature GPS locators, weight scales, USB ports, remote lock systems, and other anxiety-reducing functions. Airlines fear the batteries may catch on fire once on the plane.

Competitor Raden boasts cases "purposely designed with a battery that can be easily removed in a matter of moments", the company said in an email.

American, Delta, and Alaska Airlines have all announced that on January 15, 2018, they will require the battery to be removed before allowing the bags on board.

The move to restrict luggage with built-in batteries was spearheaded by American Airlines and the International Air Transport Association in order to decrease the risk of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries. If the battery requires hardware to remove it, or can't quickly be taken out of the bag, then your safest bet is to use that bag for road trips, or on a cruise.

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Lithium ion battery and motor allowing it to be used as a personal transportation device, either as a stand-up scooter or sit-on vehicle.

"Spare (uninstalled) lithium metal and lithium ion batteries are always prohibited in checked baggage and must be placed in carry-on". One company, Bluesmart, said that more than 65,000 of its suitcases have safely traveled the world and that while they recognize the concerns, they have worked to ensure that they "complied with all global regulations defined by [the Department of Transportation] and FAA". Airlines don't want to have to refuse to carry customer luggage at the gate.

"We are saddened by these latest changes to some airline regulations and feel it is a step back not only for travel technology, but that it also presents an obstacle to streamlining and improving the way we all travel", Bluesmart said in a statement. But now that we live in an era where airline security procedures are increasingly eating into the convenience of air travel, smart luggage also just got a lot less useful.

But TSA does not approve or endorse bags.

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"We understand that there are some airport security concerns about travel technology and companies adhering to the various regulations and quality standards", the statement said.