Airlines Ban Smart Bags That Lack Removable Batteries

Airlines Ban Smart Bags That Lack Removable Batteries

So-called "smart suitcases" are getting their first taste of pushback, with airlines and trade associations calling for more guidance on luggage that will also charge your phone.

These contain Global Positioning System tracking and can charge devices, weigh themselves or be locked remotely using mobile phones, but they are powered by lithium ion batteries, which the aviation industry regards as a fire risk, especially in the cargo hold. At $449, Bluesmart's carry-on includes those features and lets travelers lock their bag from a smartphone or weigh it on a built-in scale. Batteries in carry-on smart bags can remain installed, but passengers must be able to remove them, the carriers say.

American, Delta and Alaska airlines have all announced that as of January 15, travelers may no longer check smart bags unless their batteries can be removed.

15, any passenger with battery-powered luggage must be able to remove the battery to bring the bag on an American Airlines flight.

Most airlines will allow smart luggage on their flights if the batteries are removed, but some smart luggage bags don't give users that option. Both airlines will requiring that even carry on bags must have the batteries that removed. The company plans to meet with the airlines to potentially have the devices exempt, according to CNN. Between them, those five airlines handle more than 80% of US air traffic.

"It's incumbent upon those of us in the luggage space to make sure we make the airline community aware and educate them on what our products are, and are not", Ryan said.

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This week, the International Civil Aviation Organization determined that "baggage equipped with a lithium battery" should have restrictions limiting their allowance in an airplane cargo hold.

"At Alaska, we are unwavering in our commitment to guest safety", said Mike Tobin, Alaska's manager of unsafe goods. But Delta points out that regulators have not specifically approved any company's smart bags.

This policy follows the FAA's general rules (PDF) regarding lithium ion batteries and also the growing concern by our industry around these batteries in our cargo areas.

The FAA is already concerned with lithium batteries in the cargo hold.

Careen gave no details of any potential industry-wide standards, but said he expected others could quickly follow the example of the US carriers.

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