That “smart” suitcase might not be the best gift suggestion thanks to new checked luggage restrictions from several major airlines.
On Friday, American Airline announced that starting Jan. 15, merely smart suitcases with removable batteries will be allowed on planes. The same moves for Delta and Alaska Airline.
Anyone checking a smart pouch 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 spend a small fate at an overpriced airport shop for new luggage, or ship it.
Smart suitcases have become more popular recently thanks to features like container tracking, phone-charging ports, remote-controlled locks, and even weight scales to know if your pouch is within airline limits. All the “smart” features are powered by a lithium ion battery.
The new rule comes amid fears that those batteries will spark fires on planes. Delta banned hoverboards in 2015 over similar fire concerns. To help navigate the murky world of what’s considered a travel-safe battery, the TSA has a listing of what types of batteries are allowed on planes.
So which pouches are OK to wing?
If you’re committed to using a smart bag while traveling, be selected that can 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 suitcase has been taken somewhere unexpected, designed the container with future airfield regulations in thinker.
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 crave 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. cautioned about battery and luggage restraints already in place at airports in China and Hong Kong.
After hearing about the new American Airline rule coming in January, Dzikowski sounded alleviated about her company’s designing. “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 purses like Away already have removable divisions, especially because of tough security at Asian airports where smart luggage regulations are reasonably common.
Raden, which claims to have a TS-Aapproved removable battery, said in an email that the company designed the smart-alecky pouches with the possibility of future battery restrictions. A spokesperson touted the battery’s easy removal, without the necessity of achieving screwdrivers or other tools.
“It hasn’t impacted holiday[ sales] and we actually think it might improve our year, ” Raden’s spokesperson said.
The “problem” bags are any with batteries that can’t be pulled out — like the original Bluesmart suitcase, which had now been updated its design to make it more flying-friendly.
If other airlines follow American Airline, 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 has formally implemented this rule — but it could gradually creep into other airline regulations. A Southwest spokesperson said Friday the airline is “reviewing our policies and holding changes.”
Last week, the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, started testing new screening procedures for electronics at North Dakota airfields. The new rules require putting all electronics bigger than a cellphone in their own bin to be X-ray screened.
These new electronics rules are coming to all airports in springtime 2018, according to the TSA. Have fun traveling with all your cool gadgets next year.
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