Airlines Ban Smart Bags That Lack Removable Batteries

Airlines Ban Smart Bags That Lack Removable Batteries

Airlines Ban Smart Bags That Lack Removable Batteries

Smart suitcases can charge phones, weigh themselves, lock remotely, and can be tracked via Global Positioning System if they get lost.

Three U.S. airlines have announced new restrictions on so-called "smart bags" - a new breed of luggage that includes internal tracking devices and smartphone chargers - but may pose a risks to air travelers because the numerous bags are powered by lithium ion batteries that could potentially explode and catch fire.

Starting January 15th, a number of major airlines will ban any "smart luggage" that features a non-removable lithium-ion battery.

Don't fret: Smart bags are allowed as carry-ons, assuming they meet the size limits (which seem to get smaller each year).

So far United Kingdom airlines haven't followed suit, but a British Airways spokeswoman told The Memo that "customers wishing to carry in their hand or checked baggage any item containing a lithium battery (other than a mobile telephone, laptop or digital camera) must always seek approval from our safety team prior to travel". In case that's not possible, the trunk will not be allowed to fly.

"For this reason, we are taking a closer look at them now and our risky goods team confirms that we will likely adopt the same approach as other airlines", he said in an email statement. "While these restrictions may pose a challenge to some of our guests, there have been no incidents to date with smart bags on airplanes and we want to keep it that way". Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines have all released similar guidelines in the last week that will prohibit these bags from being checked or carried onto flights, and others are reportedly considering joining them.

An FAA spokesman told The Washington Post that the airlines' policies are "consistent with our guidance that lithium-ion batteries should not be carried in the cargo hold". The move also follows a 2015 ban on hoverboards, which have been known to spontaneously combust.

What's considered a "smart" bag?

This policy will apply to all American and American Eagle flights.

"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", said a statement from Bluesmart.

The firm plans to meet with "the world's leading airlines" to ensure its products "will be exempt from such rulings". The decision to ban smart bags has actually been in the works for a while, with airlines and regulators expressing concern over lithium-ion batteries packed in luggage even before any smart-bag Kickstarter campaigns took off. Unzip the pouch, slide it out, and use it as a portable power bank.

"We know these bags are getting popular", he said.

Related news

[an error occurred while processing the directive]