It seems our American friends prefer our suitcases dumb, as both American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have announced that passengers must be able to remove batteries from smart bags or leave them behind.
Let’s state up front, it’s not the bag’s fault; it’s the lithium battery packs the airlines don’t like, with the carriers claiming they could overheat and pose a fire risk during flight.
From 15 January 2018, American, Delta and Delta Connection will not accept smart bags with non-removable lithium batteries. And according to the LA Times, United Airlines is making moves to announce similar restrictions soon.
For AA passengers travelling with smart luggage, you will have to be able to remove the battery in case the luggage has to be checked at any point in your journey.
If the battery cannot be removed, the bag will not be allowed, a statement from American Airlines read.
“We have looked into the prevalence of these bags as they are most likely going to be a hot item, no pun intended, this holiday season,” a spokesperson for the airline said, adding that while the airline understands their popularity, it has to ensure that the bags are safe to transport.
Meanwhile, Delta, which banned hoverboards back in 2015 for similar reasons, said smart bags will be allowed if the batteries can be removed and taken on board by the customer, similar to its existing policy requiring passengers to put spare lithium-ion batteries in their carry-on bags.
Bluesmart, who claims to be the “creators of the smart luggage industry”, are “saddened” by the actions of the US airlines, claiming that “while most airlines understand and approve of smart luggage, others might still be getting up to speed”.
“We understand that there are some airport security concerns about travel technology and companies adhering to the various regulations and quality standards,” a statement from Bluesmart reads.
“Before and at the time of production, we did our due diligence to make sure that we complied with all international regulations defined by DOT and FAA.”
Delta has hit back at claims such as this, saying while many smart bag makers advertise their products as being approved by the Federal Aviation Administration or Transportation Security Administration, neither the TSA nor FAA have endorsed a smart bag.
It’s a good thing the most tech thing about my suitcase is its zip.