Newsroom - Travel Smart with Smart Bags - American Airlines Group, Inc

Scott Olson

Scott Olson

Tomi Pierucci, the CEO of smart luggage company Bluesmart, says in a statement to The Verge that the ban is "an absolute travesty", and calls it a "huge step back" for travel technology. "We were in touch with American Airlines in advance of the policy announcement, and we're not pushing for exemptions or changes", Korey says.

Likely to be a popular gift this holiday season, these bags offer a variety of features, including Global Positioning System tracking, electronic locks and the ability to charge other electronic devices.

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

Competitor Raden boasts cases "purposely designed with a battery that can be easily removed in a matter of moments", the company said in an email.

The industry had resolved to ban smart bags by 2019, but because the risks of uncontrollable fire in the aircraft hold - out of sight of cabin crew and beyond their reach to extinguish it - are causing great concern, American Airlines chose to ban the bags last week, soon followed by Delta and Alaska.

Its decision was swiftly followed by other major USA airlines, Delta, Alaska Airlines, United and Southwest. If the battery requires hardware to remove it, or can't quickly be taken out of the bag, then your safest bet is to use that bag for road trips, or on a cruise. Passengers carrying smart luggage onboard must be able to show the battery can be removed if needed, and any smart bags with non-removable batteries will be banned.

Bluesmart also says its bags comply with the current federal regulations from the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission.

But all those extras come with a hitch: namely that some are powered by lithium ion batteries, which in 2016, figured prominently the recall of roughly 2.5 million Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones after reports that their lithium ion batteries exploded.

"Spare (uninstalled) lithium metal and lithium ion batteries are always prohibited in checked baggage and must be placed in carry-on". The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects to industry-wide "guidance to be issued potentially this week", a representative said in a media hearing. The airlines will still allow travelers to bring the bags as carry-ons as long as the batteries are powered down according to existing Federal Aviation Administration regulations. But now that we live in an era where airline security procedures are increasingly eating into the convenience of air travel, smart luggage also just got a lot less useful.

An FAA spokesman told The Washington Post that the airlines' policies are "consistent with our guidance that lithium-ion batteries should not be carried in the cargo hold".

But TSA does not approve or endorse bags. Luggage with removable batteries will also still be permissible as a carry-on item.

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