Airlines Ban Some Smart Luggage Due to Safety Concerns

Smart luggage -- with features like plugs to charge your devices on-the-go, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and GPS capabilities to track valuables -- is designed to make your journey easier and more effortless, but now the high-tech bags are being banned on select airlines. 

Effective January 15, 2018, American Airlines will prohibit passengers from checking smart suitcases with lithium-ion batteries -- unless the battery can be removed. The battery can remain in the luggage if it is carried onboard, but travelers should still power off the suitcase. 

BriYYZ/Flickr

BriYYZ/Flickr

Following American Airlines’ announcement, Delta and Alaska Airlines broadcasted similar restrictions that are expected to roll out on the same date. Although United Airlines and Southwest have not made official statements as of publishing, they are allegedly working on similar policies as well, CNBC reports.

This announcement follows the Federal Aviation Administration’s push for a worldwide laptop ban in checked luggage. According to the FAA, lithium batteries that overheat pose a potential fire hazard during the flight. While the crew may be able to combat a fire onboard, it might be tougher to reach in the cargo hold. In other words, if you’re thinking about gifting your frequent flier friend or family member a high-tech suitcase this holiday season, choose one that has removable battery option.

Raden and Away are among the manufacturers that include removable batteries, while brands like Bluesmart and Modobag (which allows travelers to ride their luggage to the gate) lack the feature. Away, specifically, includes a TSA-approved screwdriver in its carry-on bags to assist with removing the battery. “It's a feature we thoughtfully designed, in part, because customers were asking for a charger that could be kept with them and used during flight,” Steph Korey, Away co-founder, told CNBC.

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