December 1, 2017
Three US Airlines are Banning Smart Bags
Smart luggage is steadily getting more popular among the travel community. These are essentially bags with built in lithium-ion batteries. They can do things like charge your devices, create a Wi-Fi hotspot, act as GPS locators, be remotely locked and unlocked, etc. The only problem with these bags is the battery. Lithium-ion batteries can overheat, and this can lead to fires. A lithium-ion fire in the cargo hold can bring down an aircraft.
Delta, American, and Alaska airlines all announced a ban on smart luggage without removable lithium-ion batteries. Customers are allowed to check-in their smart bags only if they can remove the lithium-ion battery at the airport. Customers must bring the battery onboard with them. If passengers are bringing the luggage as a carry-on, non-removable batteries are permitted.
It might seem counterintuitive to allow the batteries in the cabin but not the cargo hold, but it makes sense. If a battery catches fire in the cabin, someone will see it and flight attendants can put it out. If a battery catches fire in the cargo hold…there’s not much that can be done. The new polices go into effect on January 15, 2018.