Luggage companies have been working hard to make travel more convenient for us with wheels, TSA-friendly locks, specialized compartments, and chargers to keep our electronic devices ready to go.
However, for safety reasons, many domestic and international airlines have begun to restrict the lithium batteries that provide power for these chargers. Most allow the batteries in carry-on bags, but not in checked luggage due to potential fire risk.
For example, Delta’s baggage rule states that, “any portable electronic device equipped with a power bank offered as checked baggage must have the power bank removed prior to being checked in.” The power bank may be transported in carry-on baggage.
According to the American Airlines website, as of mid-January, “Due to a potential safety hazard, ‘smart’ bags (luggage with charging devices) can’t fly unless the battery can be removed.”
United is expected to announce similar regulations soon, and other airlines will likely follow. On Jan. 15 2018, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirmed its global ban of smart bags. There are already restrictions on checking spare lithium batteries, and it appears the concerns may lead to further tightening of these rules.
As all travelers know, onboard space often fills up, and carry-on bags must then be checked as luggage at the last minute. For this reason, the power source should be easily removable. The smart bags we list here either meet this requirement or use power banks that are purchased separately so they can be detached when necessary.
Two things to look for when purchasing USB-compatible luggage: Be sure the power unit is easily removable, and note when a power bank — see the portable chargers we recommend — must be purchased separately.