Find out if your favorite bag is affected.
Several airlines are banning certain types of smart luggage starting in January, amid fears that their batteries could cause fires onboard. If you have a smart bag, now is the time to check if it will be allowed.
Travelers will still be able to bring their smart luggage — as long as it has a removable battery. That way, if a bag must be checked, gate agents can ask passengers to remove the battery and carry it with them. (The primary fire concern is that if it's in the cargo hold, crews will not be able to put it out before serious damage is done to the aircraft.)
Smart luggage has grown in popularity in the past few years, as bags let passengers charge their devices, avoiding the awkward struggle of sitting on a dirty airport floor while charging a cellphone or laptop. Some smart bags even follow their owners around.
Luggage brand Away will not be affected by the restrictions, as the company's bags have removable batteries. Smart luggage company Bluesmart does not make bags with removable batteries, and their CEO told The Verge that this new rule was a “travesty.”
The FAA has long had rules restricting lithium-ion batteries inside checked luggage; the administration went so far as to propose a worldwide ban on putting laptops in checked luggage earlier this year over fire fears. And anyone who had a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 will recall the tremendous effort to get the phones — and their lithium-ion batteries — off aircraft.
The International Air Transport Association published guidelines for smart luggage earlier this year, noting that bags would need to have removable batteries in order to be checked in the cargo hold. The agency is expected to supplement its rules in 2018.
International airlines, including Virgin Australia and Qantas, have already imposed restrictions on the use of smart luggage.