Airlines restrict 'smart luggage' that uses lithium batteries

Airlines restrict 'smart luggage' that uses lithium batteries

Each airline said passengers with smart bags may be allowed to carry the luggage on-board, but must be able to remove the battery if the luggage has to be checked at any point during the passenger's journey. The airline announced the policy last week, citing concerns about the hazards of placing lithium-ion battery power banks in the cargo hold.

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.

"Smart bags, also known as smart luggage, have become more popular over the last few months, and they are expected to be a popular gift this holiday season", said American Airlines.

The batteries in Smart Luggage pose a fire risk that could go undetected in the cargo hold.

Likely to be a popular gift this holiday season, these bags offer a variety of features, including Global Positioning System tracking, electronic locks and the ability to charge other electronic devices.

Smart luggage companies Away and Raden say on their websites that batteries in their bags can be easily removed.

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But Ryan took issue with the way airlines' new policies treat all smart bags the same.

Tim Ryan, chief marketing officer at Chicago-based smart bag-maker Modobag, said its batteries are removable, though the company may consider making batteries easier to remove in an upcoming line of smart bags that are created to be checked. If a battery overheats and catches fire, it's easier to detect and extinguish in the cabin.

And the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said it could issue industry-wide standards on the new luggage soon.

"We love innovation and understand why smart bags are so appealing for travel", said Mike Tobin, Alaska Airlines' manager of unsafe goods, in a statement. If the bag will be traveling in the cabin, the battery can remain installed as long as it is powered off.

The rule specifically looks at suitcases with non-removable lithium-ion batteries, according to CNN. "To date, neither the TSA nor FAA have endorsed a smart bag as approved". Some even a motor to propel the bags so that they can double as a scooter or just follow their owner around the airport. "While most airlines understand and approve of smart luggage, others still might be getting up to speed".

Bluesmart said the company is organizing meetings with the world's major airlines and will demonstrate how its products meet all safety requirements and regulations. "We have nothing against smart bags", Feinstein said.

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