American Airlines Is Putting a Ban on Some Smart Luggage


American Airlines passengers wanting to check in "smart luggage" equipped with charging devices for portable electronics will be required to remove lithium-ion batteries.

Effective January 15, American Airlines won't let passengers check their smart suitcases if the lithium-ion battery can't be removed, the airline announced on Friday. Some can even be ridden like a powered scooter.

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Other carriers such as United Airlines and Southwest Airlines are now examining their current policies and working on similar changes moving forward. The high-tech luggage will be allowed as a carry-on, but the battery must be removable in the event that an airline is forced to downsize to a smaller plane without overhead bin space. But all of those features depend on there being a constant source of power - and airlines are starting to worry about the safety risk that poses.

One of the biggest manufacturers of smart luggage, a company called Bluesmart, says it is working with regulators and airlines to make sure the 65,000 pieces of luggage it has already sold will meet new rules. Crew members are trained to put out fires in the main cabin with extinguishers and fire containment bags, but they are essentially powerless in reaching them in the hard-to-access luggage hold.

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While many smart bags, such as the Raden A22 carry-on bag and AWAY's line of luggage, have removable batteries and will not be affected by American Airlines' new policy, others will be banned. "However, if a customer is required to check their smart bag, the customer will need to remove the battery".

"We understand that there are some airport security concerns about travel technology and companies adhering to the various regulations and quality standards", Bluesmart said.

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