Major airlines are banning “smart luggage”, luggage with built-in power banks, in a move that should surprise absolutely no one.
2017 saw a huge uptick in the sale of smart luggage from companies like BlueSmart and Raden. The premise seems great: if your iPhone is running low or you want to top off your Switch for some marathon gaming, just plug it into your suitcase. More advanced models even have Bluetooth speakers and connectivity, location tracking, and some are even motorized so they can glide along beside you under their own power.
The problem, however, is that lithium-ion batteries found in all these smart luggage models shouldn’t be packed in the cargo holds of planes due to fire risk (there’s a reason large lithium batteries are typically shipped via FedEx Ground, for example). Further complicating the issue, the batteries in most smart luggage aren’t removable so you can’t easily pop the battery out to put it in your carry on (which would comply with airline regulations).
American Airlines now bans smart luggage from the cargo hold. Delta and Alaska Airlines have announced similar bans (effective starting in January) and United and Southwest plan to ban smart luggage soon. With those major carriers covering more than the majority of domestic flights in the U.S., smart luggage isn’t a viable choice for most travelers now.
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