Savvy business travelers always try to carry on everything they’ll need on their trips. But if there are occasions when you go on a longer trip and need to check a bag, watch out for brand-new airline rules banning a specific kind of checked luggage: smart bags.
The latest generation of products from luggage manufacturers is incorporating various new technologies into an item that was previously very low-tech. So modern smart bags can provide things like tracking technology, built-in scales, and power ports to juice up your electronic devices on the go. But those functions all require a power source, and that source is generally a lithium-ion battery in the luggage.
The problem with lithium-ion batteries is that they sometimes spontaneously combust – and that means airlines don’t want to take the chance of having them in a baggage hold.
In the past few days, Delta, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have all issued advisories warning customers that effective January 15, smart bags powered with a lithium-ion battery that cannot be removed will no longer be accepted as checked luggage. If the passenger can take the battery out of the luggage and carry it on, no problem. Otherwise, he has a real problem if he shows up at the airport with one of the now-banned bags.
“If the customer is able to take the bag into the cabin with them, the customer will be able to leave the battery installed,” American’s advisory said. But Delta said that smart bags with non-removable batteries will not be accepted as a checked or carry-on bag. Likewise at Alaska, “Smart bags will be allowed as carry-on baggage, if they meet carry-on size limits and if it’s possible to remove the battery from the bag if needed,” the company said.
Other airlines are likely to follow suit. So if any of your loved ones are planning to buy a new smart bag as a holiday gift for their favorite frequent traveler, make sure they get one with a removable battery.