US carriers Delta and American Airlines have announced that they will prohibit passengers from checking in ‘smart bags’ that have non-removable lithium-ion batteries starting on January 15, 2018.
Smart bags, made popular by companies such as Bluesmart (pictured) and Modobag, feature integrated technology that allows users to track their luggage, weigh it and lock it using a mobile app. They also feature power banks for charging portable devices.
Delta and American both said they have decided to ban the checking in of smart bags unless passengers can remove the lithium-ion batteries that power them over fears that damaged power sources could overheat and pose a fire hazard.
Along with its announcement, Delta said it was introducing a new policy requiring passengers carrying spare lithium-ion batteries to place them in their cabin bags rather than checked luggage. It follows a 2015 ban on hoverboards, which hit headlines when battery units around the world spontaneously caught fire.
Delta also commented that many smart bag manufacturers claim their products are approved by the TSA and FAA, but neither organisation has endorsed these bags.
Meanwhile, American Airlines said passengers with carry-on smart bags can leave the battery installed, but they must be powered off in accordance with existing FAA regulations. If a customer tries to check in a smart bag and cannot remove the battery, their bag will be refused.
The airline said its decision is based on its safety team’s own analysis of smart bags.