Sorry, business travelers: Multiple US-based airlines will begin bans on select smart luggage in 2018, some as early as January.
The rule specifically looks at suitcases with non-removable lithium-ion batteries, according to CNN. Airlines fear the batteries may catch on fire once on the plane.
The earliest bans begin Jan. 15, 2018. American Airlines led the pack, announcing their ban on Dec. 1. Alaska Airlines and Delta followed, and Southwest and United are expected to implement similar bans, according to CNN.
SEE: Travel and business expense policy (Tech Pro Research)
Business leaders that use smart luggage may have a few options, depending on the type of luggage. Most airlines will let passengers use the luggage if the battery is removed, but that may cause the suitcase to lose some features and most bags on the market have non-removable batteries. Otherwise, consumers may need to find a new suitcase powered through a different source.
“We love innovation and understand why smart bags are so appealing for travel,” said Mike Tobin, Alaska Airlines’ manager of dangerous goods, in a statement. “While these restrictions may pose a challenge to some of our guests, there have been no incidents to date with smart bags on airplanes and we want to keep it that way.”
Smart luggage tends to offer features appealing to business travelers, including USB ports for on-the-go charging, electronic locks, and GPS tracking systems. Some also have a weight scale or a motor to follow its owner around the terminal.
“We 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,” Bluesmart, a smart luggage manufacturer, said in a statement. The company plans to meet with the airlines to potentially have the devices exempt, according to CNN.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Several major US airlines are banning smart luggage containing non-removable lithium-ion batteries in 2018.
- Airlines fear the batteries may spark a fire if they’re allowed to fly.
- Business travelers should see if the battery in their luggage is removable, or buy a new suitcase before January if they use an affected piece of luggage.