Airlines restrict 'smart luggage' that uses lithium batteries

Airlines restrict 'smart luggage' that uses lithium batteries

Airlines restrict 'smart luggage' that uses lithium batteries

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.

The policy is similar to allowing passengers to carry spare lithium-ion batteries in their carry-on luggage, which is presently permissible.

Now Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines have announced similar policies set to take effect on January 15.

So-called "smart suitcases" are getting their first taste of pushback, with airlines and trade associations calling for more guidance on luggage that will also charge your phone.

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With the proliferation of powerful lithium-ion batteries used in devices, and as a result of high-profile instances of overheating smartphones and other devices in flight, Delta previous year equipped all of its aircraft as well as regional jets operated by its Delta Connection partners with in-cabin containment bags in the event a device powered by a lithium-ion battery experiences a thermal runaway event or fire on board.

The airline industry consider smart bags as a potential fire risk, especially in the cargo hold as it is powered by lithium ion batteries.

The bags, which have been growing in popularity, contain Global Positioning System tracking and can charge devices, weigh themselves or be locked remotely using mobile phones.

Most airlines will allow smart luggage on their flights if the batteries are removed. Airlines fear the batteries may catch on fire once on the plane. IATA has also released guidance on restrictions of lithium-ion batteries within cargo holds.

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"We love innovation and understand why smart bags are so appealing for travel", Alaska Airlines manager of risky goods Mike Tobin said in a statement. "To date, neither the TSA nor FAA have endorsed a smart bag as approved". It said it is arranging meetings with the airlines to demonstrate their bags' safety and hopes to have them exempt from the restrictions.

New York-based Bluesmart, a leading manufacturer of smart bag technology, issued a statement saying that all of its products are compatible with FAA, DOT, FCC and United Nations 38.3 regulations. "We just want to make sure that if someone has to check the bag at any time, that they can remove that battery". "We love innovation and understand why smart bags are so appealing for travel".

"Many smart bag manufacturers advertise their products as being approved by the Federal Aviation Administration or Transportation Security Administration, which may give customers the false impression that all smart bags are accepted for transport", Delta said on its website.

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