Smart luggage was the future, now it's banished to the past

08 Décembre, 2017, 01:20 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Newsroom - Travel Smart with Smart Bags - American Airlines Group, Inc.

However, the aviation administration is concerned about the lithium-ion batteries.

Airlines are anxious that the batteries could cause a fire in the cargo hold that would go undetected.

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.

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

Although most carriers will allow passengers to keep their smart luggage if batteries are removed, but many bags in the market have built-in batteries that can not be removed.

Smart luggage boasts a number of features, usually including USB ports for recharging mobile devices, electronic locks, or alarms, and sometimes Bluetooth, GPS tracking, or internal weight scales. As long as the flyer powers off the smart bag, then they will not be required to do anything else.

Business travelers should see if the battery in their luggage is removable, or buy a new suitcase before January if they use an affected piece of luggage. However, if a customer is required to check their smart bag, the customer will need to remove the battery.

These kinds of bags have proliferated in recent years, including motorized suitcases you can ride and one pitched as an autonomous "robot companion" that follows you around.

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"The concern that airlines have is that power banks [like those installed on smart bags] have features prominently in fire incidents onboard", said IATA's David Brennan, who specializes in policies on the carriage of risky goods by air.

The second reason airlines are opting for an outright ban is that on a crowded flight, when bin space runs out, passengers may have to check bags.

For manufacturers of luggage with nonremovable batteries, the airlines' restrictions are a blow.

"What you don't want is an argument with the passenger". Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines have all released similar guidelines in the last week that will prohibit these bags from being checked or carried onto flights, and others are reportedly considering joining them.

It's expected to be a hot gift this Christmas: "smart" luggage, including bags you can track with Global Positioning System, lock remotely, ride like a scooter. The smart baggage ban is unlikely to be reversed because the risks are well known. Officials from United Airlines have not responded to questions on their policy.

So what do you do if you already have a smart bag? Luggage with removable batteries will also still be permissible as a carry-on item.

Even if your bag's battery is removable, that doesn't mean removing it is convenient. Use a different bag when flying.

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