Airlines restrict 'smart luggage' over fire hazards posed by batteries

08 December, 2017, 02:05 | Author: Barbara Daniel
  • Newsroom - Travel Smart with Smart Bags - American Airlines Group, Inc.

American Airlines and Delta Airlines have both released statements saying they will no longer accept such "smart bags" as checked or carry-on luggage if the lithium-ion batteries within the bags can not be removed as the batteries pose a fire hazard risk and may catch fire during a flight. If United Continental and Southwest Airlines also enact similar smart-luggage policies (something they have already indicated will happen), then the bags will be subject to such rules in over 80 per cent of USA air traffic. Batteries were also blamed for hoverboards that caught fire, also prompting airline bans. But numerous bags already on the market have batteries that can't be removed.

American Airlines recently announced that, beginning January 15, customers who travel with a smart bag must be able to remove the battery in case the bag has to be checked at any point. Most airlines will let passengers use the luggage if the battery is removed, but that may cause the suitcase to lose some features and most bags on the market have non-removable batteries.

Delta Airlines soon followed American with the same announcement, and the same deadline.

These features require power that is often supplied by built-in lithium ion batteries, which contain highly flammable liquid.

This policy will apply to all American and American Eagle flights. Officials from United Airlines have not responded to questions on their policy.

These were the findings of the Federal Aviation Administration after extensive testing, which prompted a reversal of the security-based requirements to check laptops and large electronics on some flights earlier this year, and instead resulted in a ban on checking large electronics in luggage.

"Before and at the time of production, we did our due diligence to make sure that we complied with all global regulations defined by DOT and FAA", Bluesmart says on its website.

"Spare (uninstalled) lithium metal and lithium ion batteries are always prohibited in checked baggage and must be placed in carry-on". "We are fully compliant with DOT and FAA and the law requires that the product is built the way ours is". But some smart luggage doesn't allow the battery to be removed.

"We are saddened by these latest changes to some airline regulations and feel it is a step back not only for travel technology, but that it also presents an obstacle to streamlining and improving the way we all travel", Bluesmart said in a statement.

What's considered a "smart" bag? Other bags are equipped with internal scales to weigh themselves and offer users that ability to remotely lock them using a smartphone app.

And those batteries have the potential to overheat and ignite, something that airlines are especially wary of after dozens of reports of last year's Samsung Galaxy Note 7 batteries smoking and catching fire.


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