Hey, business travelers: Your smart suitcase might be banned in 2018

Hey, business travelers: Your smart suitcase might be banned in 2018

Hey, business travelers: Your smart suitcase might be banned in 2018

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.

"Smart luggage" - luggage that can charge phones or be driven around the airport - are hot ticket items this holiday, but they may be hard for travellers to use as some airlines have imposed bans on the new suitcases.

American, Delta and Alaska airlines have all announced that as of January 15, travelers may no longer check smart bags unless their batteries can be removed.

Delta, meanwhile, takes security very seriously, announcing a full-blown prohibition of smart bags (with non-removable lithium-ion batteries) as checked or carry-on luggage.

So-called smart baggage has found a market niche among techie travelers by offering features like Global Positioning System tracking, enough smartphone re-charging power to get you to your destination and beyond, even a dubious method of transport around the terminal. If damaged, these batteries can enter a state called "thermal runaway", generating enough heat to catch fire that runs hot enough to burn through the fire-proof cargo containers on planes. The same day, Delta and Alaska announced similar policies on their flights.

But the heydays of electronic luggage are at an end, at least for smart bags with built-in Lithium-Ion batteries.

Even if your bag's battery is removable, that doesn't mean removing it is convenient.

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

"Smart bags contain lithium battery power banks pose a risk when they are placed in the cargo hold of an aircraft", American Airlines said.

These were the findings of the Federal Aviation Administration after extensive testing, which prompted a reversal of the security-based requirements to check laptops and large electronics on some flights earlier this year, and instead resulted in a ban on checking large electronics in luggage.

The concern about the bag was first cited by the International Air Transport Association, a trade group that issues guidance but does not regulate policy.

In an emailed statement, Laura Brown, a spokeswoman with the FAA, said the airlines' actions are "consistent with our guidance that lithium ion batteries should not be carried in the cargo hold". "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".

But TSA does not approve or endorse bags.

"We know these bags are getting popular", he said. The lithium batteries that power Modobag's motorized luggage, which travelers can ride through the airport, use different technology than the lithium-ion batteries blamed for exploding smartphones and hoverboards, according to Ryan.

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