Smart luggage has been a major travel bag trend the last couple of years. Companies like Away and others have built luggage that houses lithium batteries and USB ports to charge your devices, tout GPS tracking for your bag, electronically lock and even roll on their own. Now, that trend is at risk of being upended by new regulations multiple airlines are issuing.
Last week, American Airlines announced a new policy that requires passengers checking smart luggage to remove the lithium ion batteries. Most smart bags allow for the batteries to be removed, but if they cannot then American will not allow them to be checked. Otherwise, they must be a carry-on item and powered off upon entering the cabin.
American Airlines cited a potential fire hazard as the reason for the new restrictions that go into effect Jan. 15, 2018. “Smart bags contain lithium battery power banks, which pose a risk when they are placed in the cargo hold of an aircraft,” the airline said in a statement.
This makes a lot of sense, since airlines have struggled with fire hazards of devices and laptops that contain lithium ion batteries. Since last week, two other U.S. air carriers have followed suit with similar policies.
Delta and Alaska Airlines are also instituting smart luggage policies starting on Jan. 15, except they will require that carry on luggage must have the batteries removed or it cannot come onto the plane.
Bluesmart, one of the smart luggage makers, has sold some 65,000 units. But their’s does not allow for the battery to be removed.
“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 to CNN.
CNN also stated that United Airlines and Southwest Airlines both plan to announce similar policies shortly, as well.
While this doesn’t hinder holiday travel, it is something to keep in mind if you own smart luggage or are looking to purchase some in the future.
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