Rules regulating smart bags are getting even more complicated.

By Melanie Lieberman
February 16, 2018
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In January, new smart bag policies went into effect on a number of major airlines. Because lithium-ion batteries have a record of sometimes overheating and exploding, airlines are particularly concerned with keeping them as accessible as possible — and that means away from the cargo hold and removed from suitcases.

In addition to outright banning luggage with non-removable lithium-ion batteries, airlines now generally require that removable batteries be detached from both checked as well as carry-on suitcases, and kept easily reachable at all times.

For this reason, travelers need to remove lithium batteries from their smart suitcases prior to boarding.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Delta’s policy has been particularly confusing — for both travelers as well as the airline’s flight crew.

The Los Angeles Times reported that smart luggage brand Away had recently received complaints from travelers that they were not allowed to stow loose lithium-ion batteries in the overhead compartment during Delta flights.

In a memo sent to staff, Away co-founder Steph Korey cited incidents involving “hundreds of customers.” But Delta’s detailed policy does not say anything about keeping lithium-ion batteries out of overhead storage bins.

Related: 9 Smart Suitcases That Won't Break Airlines' New Rules

“The primary focus [of the policy],” a Delta spokesperson told Travel + Leisure, “is that the removable battery be made more accessible than if it was kept in its designed enclosure.”

The spokesperson added that many smart luggage batteries, while removable, might require a specific set of tools to separate the battery from the bag.

Delta’s lithium battery policy, while requiring that the battery be removed from the bag, also urges travelers to “place each battery in its own protective case, plastic bag, or package” or to “place tape across the battery’s contacts to isolate terminals.”

Passengers flying with Delta should also be sure that lithium batteries are insulated, and stored far from any other batteries, metal, or flammable objects.

Travelers should note that Delta's policy is nearly identical to other major domestic carriers, including United and American Airlines.

To ensure you don't run into any problems while traveling with smart bags (or, you know, your spare lithium-ion batteries) be sure to separate any battery from your suitcase before boarding and clearly insulate it in a plastic bag.

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