Smart luggage has been all the rage since Bluesmart dropped its OG cutting-edge case back in 2014. But if you've been reading the news, you might have seen that airlines are starting to ban the high-tech suitcases. Here's everything you need to know about the the new policies.
The allure of smart luggage is easy to understand: the built-in batteries for charging gear on the go; the Bluetooth GPS trackers so you can keep track of your bag's location; the accompanying iOS apps that alert you to weather conditions, TSA wait times, flight schedules changes, and traffic en route to the airport....
But at the recommendation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a host of airlines—including American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta, and Hawaiian Airlines—have announced the high-tech luggage won't be allowed on flights due to safety concerns. According to the FAA, the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in the luggage pose a fire threat in cargo areas. If you're scratching your head for examples of what else uses a lithium-ion battery, that'd be Samsung's self-combusting Note 7 and pretty much every hoverboard invented and subsequently recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Although the main concern is with checked bags, some carriers have also taken issue with carry-ons.
If you just got a new suitcase and are worried you won't be able to use it—there is a silver lining of sorts. Airlines are allowing smart luggage as long as it has a removable lithium-ion battery. Simply pop the battery pack out before you check your bag and you can carry it onboard. The thought here is that a battery failure-induced fire in the cabin would be much easier to combat than a cargo area fire thanks to flight attendants with fire extinguishers. (Hmm...)
Most best-selling smart luggage brands have removable batteries. So if you're sporting a Raden, Away, Arlo Skye, Barracuda, or G-RO— you're good to go. As always, just check your airline's restrictions before you get to the airport.