Most US Airlines Set To Limit Use Of 'Smart Bags'

  • Most US Airlines Set To Limit Use Of 'Smart Bags'

Most US Airlines Set To Limit Use Of 'Smart Bags'

American Airlines announced its ban on December 1, and other airlines have followed, including Alaska Airlines and Delta.

"We are saddened by these latest changes to some airline regulations and 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, a smart luggage manufacturer, said in a statement. This guidance has been issued due to the inconsistent nature of lithium batteries and the potential threat they pose when placed in a cargo hold.

The restrictions, set to take effect January 15, 2018, adhere to FAA guidelines regarding lithium ion batteries, which are restricted from airline cargo holds for fears of the batteries' possible ignition in an uncontainable space.

The bags, which have been growing in popularity, contain Global Positioning System tracking and can charge devices, weigh themselves or be locked remotely using mobile phones.

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.

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One company that manufactures smart bags, Bluesmart, said the batteries in its luggage are not removable. It announced plans to meet with airlines to seek exemptions for its products. If a battery overheats and catches fire, it's easier to detect and extinguish in the cabin. 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. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects to industry-wide "guidance to be issued potentially this week", a representative said in a media hearing.

Even if your bag's battery is removable, that doesn't mean removing it is convenient. "To date, neither the TSA nor FAA have endorsed a smart bag as approved". Most can follow their owners using a motor or can be used as a scooter.

New York-based Bluesmart, a leading manufacturer of smart bag technology, issued a statement saying that all of its products are compatible with FAA, DOT, FCC and United Nations 38.3 regulations. The only exception will be if the battery is removed from the bag on site and then carried on the plane by the customer separated from the bag itself. "We have nothing against smart bags", Feinstein said. "While most airlines understand and approve of smart luggage, others still might be getting up to speed".

It said it would be holding meetings with airlines to try and ensure its products are exempt from any restrictions.