American Airlines announced Friday that “smart luggage” with lithium-ion battery power banks will be banned – unless the battery can be removed if the bag needs to be checked.
Smart bags have been gaining popularity for travelers the world over. Most of the luggage offers travelers a battery backup to charge electronic devices on the go. Some suitcases offer GPS tracking, electronic tags or locks or Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity. Some can even be ridden like a powered scooter.
While many smart bags, such as the Raden A22 carry-on bag and AWAY's line of luggage, have removable batteries and will not be affected by American Airlines' new policy, others will be banned. The pricey Modobag — which allows travelers to ride their luggage to their gate — does not advertise a removable battery.
The new rule goes into effect Jan. 15, 2018. Smart luggage can be checked if the battery is removed. Alternatively, the battery can remain in the luggage if it is take into the cabin. Travelers should still power off the luggage when in the cabin following existing federal guidelines for lithium batteries.
Carriers across the world have been cracking down on lithium-ion batteries in the cargo holds of planes over fears they could catch fire and cause an explosion inflight.
“As part of safety management and risk mitigation, we always evaluate ways to enhance our procedures, and the Safety team at American has conducted its own analysis of these bags,” according to a statement from American Airlines.
The policy applies to all flights on American Airlines and American Eagle.