That “smart” suitcase might not be the best gift mind thanks to new checked baggage regulations from several major airlines.
On Friday, American Airline announced that starting Jan. 15, merely smart suitcases with removable batteries will be allowed on airplanes. The same goes for Delta and Alaska Airlines.
Anyone checking a smart bag will have to remove the battery. And if your smart suitcase doesn’t have a removable battery? Too bad — you’ll have to leave it behind and invest a small fortune at an overpriced airport shop for new luggage, or ship it.
Smart suitcases have become more popular lately thanks to features like suitcase tracking, phone-charging ports, remote-controlled locks, and even weight scales to know if your suitcase is within airline limits. All the “smart” features are powered by a lithium ion battery.
The new regulation comes amid fears that those batteries will trigger flames on planes. Delta banned hoverboards in 2015 over similar burn fears. To help navigate the murky world of what’s deemed to be a travel-safe battery, the TSA has a list of what types of batteries are allowed on planes.
So which suitcases are OK to fly?
If you’re committed to using a smart container while traveling, choose one that they are able make it on the plane. Most start at more than $200.
Samsara, a crowdfunded smart suitcase that uses GPS tracking to apprise you if your purse has been taken somewhere unexpected, designed the bag with future airport regulations in psyche.
CEO and co-founder Atara Dzikowski said in a call the Samsara has a removable “smart unit” where all the smart features are housed. “We didn’t want any wiring or anything that could be problematic within the suitcase, ” she said.
“We didn’t want any wiring or anything that could be problematic within the suitcase.”
Feedback from benefactors from outside the U.S. warned about battery and luggage regulations already in place at airports in China and Hong Kong.
After hearing about the new American Airline regulation coming in January, Dzikowski sounded alleviated about her company’s intend. “We’re very happy with our decision, ” she said.
The Samsara is expected to ship in January — only in time for the new rules.
Other removable battery smart-alecky bags like Away already have removable divisions, especially because of tough security at Asian airfields where smart luggage limiteds are moderately common.
Raden, which claims to have a TS-Aapproved removable battery, said in an email that the company designed the smart-alecky bags with the possibility of setting up future battery limitations. A spokesperson touted the battery’s easy removal, without the need for screwdrivers or other tools.
“It hasn’t impacted holiday[ marketings] and we actually think it might improve our year, ” Raden’s spokesperson said.
The “problem” containers are any with batteries that can’t be drawn out — like the original Bluesmart suitcase, which has since updated its intend to make it more flying-friendly.
If other airlines follow American Airlines, Alaska, and Delta’s lead, you’ll want to only look for smart suitcases with removable units. A good starting point must incorporate “removable battery” in your product search and closely read the specifications on any smart container websites and product pages.
Only these three U.S.-based airlines have officially implemented this rule — but it could slowly creep into other airline regulations. A Southwest spokesperson said Friday the airline is “reviewing our policies and deeming changes.”
Last week, the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, started testing new screening procedures for electronics at North Dakota airfields. The new regulations involve putting all electronics bigger than a cellphone in their own bin to be X-ray screened.
These new electronics regulations are coming to all airfields in springtime 2018, according to the TSA. Have fun traveling with all your cool contraptions next year.
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