Is Your Suitcase Affected by the Smart Bags Ban?
Earlier this month, news broke that several major U.S. airlines were placing bans on smart bags. It created a flurry of online activity and speculations on which suitcases could or could not fly.
American, Alaska, and Delta Airlines issued releases announcing the new smart bag bans, which take effect January 15, 2018, and United and Southwest Airlines are expected to follow suit with similar announcements soon. Additionally, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the U.N. International Civil Aeronautics Organization (ICAO) are moving to implement smart bag bans globally.
Essentially, the new smart bag bans state that any bag with a non-removable lithium-ion battery is not allowed to fly.
What’s the big deal with the smart bags ban?
The luggage industry has been a sleepy space since the four-wheeled suitcase was patented (back in the 1972!) but with the newest wave of smart technology, suitcases have been getting a revamp. Smart bags include all sorts of tech-friendly features including GPS locators, built-in chargers, weight scales, and even motors to make the bags rideable.
These features are great for a business trip (well, maybe not the rideable part), and have been selling like crazy. With so many smart bags purchased, some costing over $1,000, people are angered that they won’t be able to use them.
What’s the issue with smart bags?
Lithium-ion batteries. These batteries, found in many electronics today, are extremely efficient but pose a risk of overheating and igniting. Remember the Samsung Galaxy Note 7? Airlines are concerned that smart bags may end up getting checked gateside, and while flight attendants could quickly respond to a fire risk in the cabin, the same risk is much harder to detect and handle if it occurs in the cargo hold.
The smart bag ban is in line with FAA regulations on lithium-ion batteries and electronic devices containing lithium-ion batteries. According to their site, “spare lithium ion batteries are always prohibited in checked baggage and must be placed in carry-on” baggage. “Devices containing lithium ion batteries should be carried in carry-on baggage when possible. When these devices must be carried in checked baggage, they should be turned completely off.”
Are any smart bags still allowed to fly?
Smart bags are still allowed as carry-on baggage, if it’s possible to remove the battery from the bag. If you have to check the smart bag at the gate, the battery must be removed and carried into the cabin.
Two of our favorite smart bags include Away and Arlo Skye, because the batteries are cased externally and easy to remove on the fly. There are other brands like, Incase, G-RO and Modobag, that make smart bags with an internal battery pack that is removable, but they are difficult to take out once the bag is packed.