USA airlines to limit 'smart luggage' over battery fire fears

Bluesmart recently issued a news release touting a line of

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

Many major U.S. airlines have announced restrictions on so-called smart luggage out of concern their lithium ion batteries may pose a fire risk.

The new restrictions being imposed mainly apply to smart bags which are checked-in, as a fire that breaks out in the cargo hold of an aircraft is much more severe than a fire in the cabin. So, starting January 15, American will require travelers to remove the battery if they want to check the bag. But before passengers go out and purchase a smart bag for their next trip, which can range any where from $275 to over $1,000, they should check with their airlines policies on the smart luggage. Airlines have previously banned products like hoverboards and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 over similar concerns.

"The smart luggages have ionized lithium batteries, which could explode when put on board". Forcing customers to strip out the batteries makes them far less convenient and would undermine some of the key features like Global Positioning System tracking, which is supposed to keep smart bags from being lost in airline bag hell. If the battery can not be removed, the bag will not be allowed. While it allows things like laptops to be checked, it suggests they be placed in carry-on bags instead. But if the bag has a nonremovable battery, it can't be checked or carried on.

Effective Jan. 15, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines will no longer check smart luggage with non-removable batteries-which could overheat and become a fire hazard during flight. If a fire starts there, the crew can use fire suppression bottles to fight it, "but you can only deploy them once".

In a statement to CNN, Bluesmart wrote that they 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 its bags comply with current federal regulations from the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission.

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Airlines fear the batteries may spark a fire if they're allowed to fly.

"While most airlines understand and approve of smart luggage, others might still be getting up to speed".

Some luggage makers advertise that their bags are "TSA-approved".

The changes in policy - first the laptop ban and now the smart baggage ban - might be confusing to travelers, but the laptop ban was a unilateral decision taken by the USA and United Kingdom governments based on intelligence of threats to flights, without first consulting airlines.

"We wanted to get out ahead of the holiday season given that it's one of the trendy gifts for travelers", said American spokeswoman Leslie Scott. "American is not opposed to smart bags".

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