More Restrictions on Smart Luggage From Delta
Delta Airlines is tightening its restrictions on smart luggage, requiring customers to remove their lithium batteries in all instances, whether carried on, checked regularly or checked at the gate.
The airline's addition to the rules is another step in the increasing limitations the industry is putting on smart luggage, which has built-in batteries and chargers for electronic devices and, in some cases, can even turn into miniature vehicles that allow their owners to ride rather than walk to their gates. (TPG has compiled a list of smart luggage — you can check whether yours is allowed.)
Tests have shown that lithium batteries can overheat and cause fires under certain conditions, leading to a confusing and sometimes seemingly contradictory series of advisories from the Federal Aviation Administration last year. In December, American led the way as several airlines forbade smart luggage with lithium batteries that could not be removed.
Under Delta's additional rules, passengers who want to check a smart bag must remove its lithium-ion battery and bring it into the cabin with them (it can remain in the bag as long as it's disconnected and removed from its working compartment). If the luggage is gate-checked, the battery goes into the cabin with the passenger before the bag can be loaded into the cargo hold. With luggage that is checked regularly, the passenger must remove and carry the lithium battery into the cabin.
As of today, American, Alaska, Southwest still allows the batteries in smart luggage to remain plugged in as long as they're carried on; Hawaiian Airlines requires carry-on smart luggage to be turned off but doesn't require the battery to be removed; and United hasn't updated the safety guidelines on its website to reflect any new changes like Delta's. Considering how swiftly all airlines followed suit after American in December, though, it seems likely they'll also add new restrictions on carry-on and gate-checked smart luggage.