Airlines: "Smart Bags" Pose Explosion Risk


It even includes bag that will find and follow you.

The bags generally have USB ports where customers can recharge their phones and other devices. But these features require power, often in the form of lithium-ion batteries.

Most airlines will allow smart luggage on their flights if the batteries are removed.

"If the battery can not be removed, the bag will not be allowed", the airlines said.

Now Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines have announced similar policies set to take effect on January 15.

If the customer is able to take the bag into the cabin with them, the customer will be able to leave the battery installed.

Smart luggage companies Away and Raden say on their websites that batteries in their bags can be easily removed. But if the bag has a nonremovable battery, it can't be checked or carried on.

Concerns over the risk of a lithium ion battery fire were highlighted during the electronics ban temporarily imposed earlier this year on some flights to the United States.

Lithium-ion batteries are well known for being volatile; their tendency to explode is heavily documented, particularly in cases involving consumer devices with less than optimal construction. When these devices must be carried in checked baggage, they should be turned completely off, protected from accidental activation, and packed so they are protected from damage. The airlines will still allow travelers to bring the bags as carry-ons as long as the batteries are powered down according to existing Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

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The FAA is already concerned with lithium batteries in the cargo hold.

"We love innovation and understand why smart bags are so appealing for travel", Alaska Airlines manager of risky goods Mike Tobin said in a statement. Its list of hazards and potential consequences is enough to make any flyer a little nervous.

These contain Global Positioning System tracking and can charge devices, weigh themselves or be locked remotely using mobile phones, but they are powered by lithium ion batteries, which the aviation industry regards as a fire risk, especially in the cargo hold.

"In the cabin, passengers and crew can fight a fire", he adds.

"Before and at the time of production, we did our due diligence to make sure that we complied with all global regulations defined by DOT and FAA", smart luggage company Bluesmart said in a statement.

American Airlines spokeswoman Leslie Scott told the Chicago Tribune: 'We wanted to get out ahead of the holiday season given that it's one of the trendy gifts for travelers'.

"[We] feel it is a step back not only for travel technology but that it also presents an obstacle to streamlining and improving the way we all travel", Bluesmart said in a statement.

Some luggage makers advertise that their bags are "TSA-approved".