Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Delta, American Airlines place restrictions on smart bags

Delta, American Airlines place restrictions on smart bags

Most airlines will allow smart luggage on their flights if the batteries are removed, but some smart luggage bags don't give users that option.

The policy is similar to allowing passengers to carry spare lithium-ion batteries in their carry-on luggage, which is presently permissible.

"We wanted to get out ahead of the holiday season given that it's one of the trendy gifts for travelers", said American spokeswoman Leslie Scott.

With the proliferation of powerful lithium-ion batteries used in devices, and as a result of high-profile instances of overheating smartphones and other devices in flight, Delta previous year equipped all of its aircraft as well as regional jets operated by its Delta Connection partners with in-cabin containment bags in the event a device powered by a lithium-ion battery experiences a thermal runaway event or fire on board.

This policy follows the FAA's general rules (PDF) regarding lithium ion batteries and also the growing concern by our industry around these batteries in our cargo areas.

The bags generally have USB ports where customers can recharge their phones and other devices.

Although most of the airlines will allow passengers to travel with the smart bags if the battery is removed, but numerous bags already on the market have batteries that can't be removed.

Southwest Airlines and United Continental are considering creating smart-bag policies. Airlines fear the batteries may catch on fire once on the plane.

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. Some even a motor to propel the bags so that they can double as a scooter or just follow their owner around the airport. While it allows things like laptops to be checked, it suggests they be placed in carry-on bags instead.

But they are powered by lithium ion batteries, which have been known to burst into flames on flights. If the bag will be traveling in the cabin, the battery can remain installed as long as it is powered off. "While most airlines understand and approve of smart luggage, others still might be getting up to speed". "To date, neither the TSA nor FAA have endorsed a smart bag as approved". 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. The company said it will meet with airlines to make sure its products will be not have removable batteries, a company spokesman said.

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