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More US Airlines Follow AA's Lead in Banning Smart Luggage

Dec. 02, 2017
2 min read
More US Airlines Follow AA's Lead in Banning Smart Luggage
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Friday afternoon, American Airlines announced a ban on certain "smart luggage" — bags that have features like plugs to charge your devices, motors, GPS or Bluetooth capabilities. Citing safety concerns of checking lithium batteries in the cargo hold, AA will ban all "smart bags" which have non-removable batteries for flights on and after January 15, 2018.

Now, Delta and Alaska Airlines have followed suit in also announcing their own "smart bags" ban. Just like American Airlines, the bans will go into effect January 15, 2018.

AA's announcement originally caused a bit of confusion about whether "smart bags" with non-removable batteries would be allowed as carry-ons. The airline later clarified that all bags with non-removable batteries will be banned from being carried on, due to unforeseen circumstances that could force one of these bags to be checked.

However, Delta's announcement makes its policy clear:

Effective Jan. 15, 2018, Delta and Delta Connection will no longer accept as checked or carry-on luggage so-called "smart bags" or smart luggage with non-removable lithium-ion batteries, due to the potential for the powerful batteries to overheat and pose a fire hazard risk during flight.

Similarly, Alaska laid out its policy:

  • 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.
  • If the bag will fly as a checked bag, the battery must be removed and the battery must be carried in the cabin.
  • If it’s not possible to remove the battery from the bag, the bag won’t be allowed on the plane.

As of publishing, United, Southwest and JetBlue haven't announced similar bans. However, the ban seems to be coordinated. So, we won't be surprised to see more airlines jump on the bandwagon.

The luggage bans follow in the footsteps of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) research about the dangers of checking lithium batteries. Damaged lithium batteries have the possibility of igniting a fire. If this occurs on-board, the flight crew are able to fight the fire. However, fires in the cargo hold pose a much tougher firefighting challenge.

Stay tuned to The Points Guy for a round-up of "smart bags" that are banned and those still allowed on planes.

Featured image by izusek / Getty Images