Airlines: "Smart Bags" Pose Explosion Risk


Typically, airlines have allowed passengers to bring computers and other devices with lithium ion batteries on board, where any fire would be easier to extinguish.

American, Delta, and Alaska Airlines have all announced that on January 15, 2018, they will require the battery to be removed before allowing the bags on board.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, Dallas-Fort Worth-based American Airlines and Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, have all released statements prohibiting transport of smart bags with non-removable batteries.

Smart bags, also known as smart luggage, have become more popular over the last few months, and they are expected to be a popular gift this holiday season. 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.

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.

Smart bags have grown in popularity recently and can feature built-in Global Positioning System and Bluetooth locators, USB ports to charge phones, and self-weighing capabilities.

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

The problem with smart luggage is particularly noteworthy because airlines have been marketing basic economy fares that often don't allow for full-size carry-on luggage, thereby forcing those passengers to check their bags.

One of the smart bag manufacturers, Bluesmart, says that it has sold 65,000 of them, and that it most recent version has sold out.

If the bag will fly as a checked bag, the battery must be removed and the battery must be carried in the cabin. Everything from electric fidget spinners to "hoverboards" have caught on fire from overheated li-ion batteries. The company plans to meet with the airlines to potentially have the devices exempt, according to CNN.

What's considered a "smart" bag? Some even a motor to propel the bags so that they can double as a scooter or just follow their owner around the airport. Many require you to use a TSA-approved screwdriver to get to the batteries in an Away piece of luggage.

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.

If the customer is able to take the bag into the cabin with them, the customer will be able to leave the battery installed. "We love innovation and understand why smart bags are so appealing for travel".



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