If you are planning to gift a “smart bag” to a trend-loving traveler this holiday season, you’d better think twice.
Beginning Jan. 15, three U.S. airlines plan to limit smart bags due to the fire hazard associated with the lithium-ion batteries that power them. In order to check a smart bag, customers must be able to remove the battery pack.
“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 in a statement. “However, smart bags contain lithium-battery power banks, which pose a risk when they are placed in the cargo hold of an aircraft.”
Smart bags are the latest breeds of products with built-in technology that allow travelers a variety of conveniences — from charging wireless devices via a USB port to GPS tracking to locate missing luggage. One brand, Modobag, can even be ridden through an airport like a scooter.
American, the first airline to announce the new policy, will allow carry-on bags if the battery pack can be disconnected; Delta and Alaska, which followed suit with the ruling, will permit only carry-on bags with battery packs that can be removed.
Bluesmart, a leading maker of smart luggage, reacted on its blog to the new restrictions: “With over 65,000 Bluesmart suitcases safely traveling around the world, the smart-luggage industry continues to grow. We understand that there are some airport security concerns about travel technology and companies adhering to the various regulations and quality standards. Before and at the time of production, we did our due diligence to make sure that we complied with all international regulations defined by DOT and FAA. While most airlines understand and approve of smart luggage, others might still be getting up to speed. We are saddened by these latest changes to some airline regulations and feel it is a step back not only for travel technology but it also presents an obstacle to streamlining and improving the way we all travel.”