Three US airlines to restrict certain smart luggage from cargo holds

Three US airlines to restrict certain smart luggage from cargo holds

Typically, airlines have allowed passengers to bring computers and other devices with lithium ion batteries on board, where any fire would be easier to extinguish.

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.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, Dallas-Fort Worth-based American Airlines and Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, have all released statements prohibiting transport of smart bags with non-removable batteries.

"We just want to make sure that if people are going to buy smart bags, they ask the question: Is the battery removable?" said American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein.

"The airlines' action is consistent with our guidance to not carry lithium ion batteries in the cargo hold", said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown.

For those new to the latest trend in luggage, smart bags are suitcases or laptop bags that offer built in extras, like the ability to charge or your phone or track it should it go astray. Beginning Jan. 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 in the customer's journey.

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Southwest Airlines and United Continental are considering creating smart-bag policies.

Tim Ryan, chief marketing officer at Chicago-based smart bag-maker Modobag, said its batteries are removable, though the company may consider making batteries easier to remove in an upcoming line of smart bags that are created to be checked. Everything from electric fidget spinners to "hoverboards" have caught on fire from overheated li-ion batteries. IATA has also released guidance on restrictions of lithium-ion batteries within cargo holds.

Lithium ion battery and motor allowing it to be used as a personal transportation device, either as a stand-up scooter or sit-on vehicle.

"We love innovation and understand why smart bags are so appealing for travel", said Mike Tobin, Alaska Airlines' manager of risky goods, in a statement.

While most airlines understand and approve of smart luggage, others might still be getting up to speed. "To date, neither the TSA nor FAA have endorsed a smart bag as approved".

If it's not possible to remove the battery from the bag, the bag won't be allowed on the plane. The company plans to meet with the airlines to potentially have the devices exempt, according to CNN. "We have nothing against smart bags", Feinstein said.

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