Airlines moving to ban 'smart' luggage over fire concerns


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. The move aims to protect aircraft from fires located in the cargo hold. If the battery can not be removed, the bag will not be allowed.

Passengers carrying smart bags will face restrictions in most of the major USA airlines.

Many smart bags could soon be banned on most US flights.

Prices can range from $275 to more than $1,000, depending on a bag's bells and whistles, like device charging, Global Positioning System tracking, remote locking and built-in weight sensors.

Lithium ion battery and motor allowing it to be used as a personal transportation device, either as a stand-up scooter or sit-on vehicle.

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The batteries are in many electronics these days, because they are extremely efficient.

If it's not possible to remove the battery from the bag, the bag won't be allowed on the plane.

The policy goes into effect January 15, the same day Alaska Airlines implements its own smart-bag restrictions.

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

United says they are planning to implement a similar policy and Southwest is undertaking a review. Between them, those five airlines handle more than 80% of USA air traffic.

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But Bluesmart, which says more than 65,000 of its suitcases are being used around the world, said its batteries can not be removed but that its products meet all safety regulations and requirements.

"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.

But all those extras come with a hitch: namely that some are powered by lithium ion batteries, which in 2016, figured prominently the recall of roughly 2.5 million Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones after reports that their lithium ion batteries exploded. It said it is arranging meetings with the airlines to demonstrate their bags' safety and hopes to have them exempt from the restrictions. The TSA said the bags are not on its list of prohibited items.

If the bag will fly as a checked bag, the battery must be removed and the battery must be carried in the cabin.

As mentioned above, the FAA recently released a recommendation that airlines prevent travelers from checking bags containing larger electronic devices with li-ion batteries.

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"Power banks are considered spare batteries and must be individually protected from short-circuit and carried in carry-on baggage only", according to the International Air Transport Association's 2017 Lithium Battery Guidance Document.