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07 December 2017, 04:29 | Kelvin Horton
Why You Shouldn't Buy 'Smart' Luggage
American Airlines, the first US carrier to impose restrictions on the smart bags, announced a new policy last week that require its passengers to check smart bags to remove the lithium ion batteries. The airlines fear the power banks will overheat and catch fire in the cargo hold.
Airlines are anxious that the batteries could cause a fire in the cargo hold that would go undetected.
Smart luggage bags have features like USB ports that can be used to charge phones or laptops, motors, and tracking systems. Many require you to use a TSA-approved screwdriver to get to the batteries in an Away piece of luggage.
The policy goes into effect January 15, the same day Alaska Airlines implements its own smart-bag restrictions.
Global airlines body IATA said it could issue industry-wide standards on the new luggage soon, after some us airlines issued their own restrictions on smart bags, whose manufacturers include companies such as BlueSmart, Raden or Away.
Although most of the airlines will allow passengers to travel with the smart bags if the battery is removed, but numerous bags already on the market have batteries that can't be removed.
Smart bags will be allowed as carry-on baggage, if they meet carry-on size limits and if it's possible to remove the battery from the bag if needed. If passengers need to check the bag, the battery must be removed and carried onboard.
Lithium-ion batteries are well known for being volatile; their tendency to explode is heavily documented, particularly in cases involving consumer devices with less than optimal construction.
United and Southwest are also expected to announce similar policies, according to CNN.
The FAA is already concerned with lithium batteries in the cargo hold.
If the bag will fly as a checked bag, the battery must be removed and the battery must be carried in the cabin.
Smart luggage manufacturers have pushed back.
Bluesmart, a smart-bag manufacturer, said it was saddened by the airlines' policies.
"Before and at the time of production, we did our due diligence to make sure that we complied with all worldwide regulations defined by DOT and FAA", smart luggage company Bluesmart said in a statement.
An FAA spokesman toldThe Washington Post that the airlines' policies are "consistent with our guidance that lithium-ion batteries should not be carried in the cargo hold".
So-called "smart suitcases" are getting their first taste of pushback, with airlines and trade associations calling for more guidance on luggage that will also charge your phone.
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