Smart luggage was the future, now it's banished to the past


"Smart luggage" - luggage that can charge phones or be driven around the airport - are hot ticket items this holiday, but they may be hard for travellers to use as some airlines have imposed bans on the new suitcases. But some smart luggage doesn't allow the battery to be removed. United and Southwest Airlines also plan to announce new smart bag policies soon. Last year, the FAA noted that their testing of plane fire safety showed that "current cargo fire suppression systems can not effectively control a lithium battery fire".

Smart luggage tends to offer features appealing to business travelers, including USB ports for on-the-go charging, electronic locks, and GPS tracking systems. Batteries were also blamed for hoverboards that caught fire, also prompting airline bans.

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.

Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines have also announced similar policies against smart luggage to take effect on January 15.

If the customer is able to take the bag into the cabin with them, the customer will be able to leave the battery installed.

But many are also powered by lithium batteries, which, according to a number of US airlines, pose a risk when placed in the cargo hold of a plane.

15, any passenger with battery-powered luggage must be able to remove the battery to bring the bag on an American Airlines flight.

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.

"Devices containing lithium metal or lithium ion batteries (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) should be carried in carry-on baggage when possible".

"Spare (uninstalled) lithium metal and lithium ion batteries are always prohibited in checked baggage and must be placed in carry-on".

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". The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects to industry-wide "guidance to be issued potentially this week", a representative said in a media hearing.

But TSA does not approve or endorse bags.

"As we speak, we are talking with the airlines so they can review our products and get the proper exemptions in place", Tomi Pierucci, co-founder and CEO of Bluesmart told Forbes.

"We understand that there are some airport security concerns about travel technology and companies adhering to the various regulations and quality standards", the statement said.