Even though smart bags — suitcases outfitted with USB charging stations, GPS tracking, built-in hot spots, and an array of other high-tech features — continue to flood the market, a growing number of airlines are prohibiting them from aircraft.
Most recently, United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Allegiant Airlines announced restrictions on smart luggage.
Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines, as well as international carriers such as Qantas, Air Canada, and British Airways have already banned this type of bag. Rules regulating these suitcases will go into effect for all aforementioned airlines on January 15, 2018.
The main concern for airlines centers around the large lithium batteries used in many smart bag designs. Lithium batteries, just like those in laptops, cameras, and other electronics, have been known to overheat and explode.
If the batteries are fixed into the bag, airlines worry flight attendants will not be able to reach them in the overhead compartments before they do serious damage to the aircraft.
And it’s even more concerning if passengers check these bags.
Fortunately for fans of smart luggage, certain bags with removable batteries will still be allowed on flights, as long as passengers take the batteries out and keep them in the cabin (not in the cargo hold) and, obviously, far away from flammable objects.
To be sure your suitcase conforms to these new regulations, shop for a smart bag with an easy-to-remove battery. Or, you know, stick with an old-fashioned suitcase that won’t explode.