Smart bags have grown popular over the last few years thanks to a wave of development around the internet-of-things technology and the growing needs of travelers looking to charge their mobile devices. As a result, there seems to be a wide range of smart luggage bags available, most of which include features like built-in GPS, bluetooth tracking, weigh scales, remote locking and unlocking and a backup battery to charge your mobile device. That last feature, however, is a cause for concern among many airlines.
So, it looks like luggage is long overdue for some serious innovation. The last big breakthrough — wheeled suitcases — rolled out in 1970 and it looks as if technology has now come to your suitcase giving it many enhancements. With built-in features like GPS locators, weight scales that prevent over-packing, USB ports to charge your devices, solar-powered batteries, and remote lock systems, smart luggage is a game-changer in the travel industry. But it looks as if all of these enhancements might have many airlines worried and as a result, banning them on their flights.
Earlier this month, several US-based airlines announced that they would prohibit smart luggage on their flights citing safety concerns over the bags’ rechargeable lithium-ion batteries catching fire in the cargo holds. As of now, it looks like many of the Canadian airlines have not provided much guidance as to their policies on these smart suitcases though I suspect their policies will fall in line with their American counterparts once this trend becomes more popular.
Companies like BlueSmart, Raden and Away are the most popular smart luggage makers and they are all stating their products are designed to meet all airlines regulations. But for all those features found within these smart luggage items, the culpurate seems to be its power in the form of lithium-ion batteries, which are generally seen as fire risks on planes. Much similar to the ban on hoverboards several years ago. For that reason, many airlines now are saying they will no longer accept such “smart bags” as checked or carry-on luggage if the lithium-ion batteries within the bags cannot be removed as the batteries pose a fire hazard risk and may catch fire during a flight.
And so, beginning in the new year, many US airlines will have new regulations in place regarding smart luggage where customers who travel with a smart bag must be able to remove the battery in case the bag has to be checked at any point in the customer’s journey. If the battery cannot be removed, the bag will not be allowed.
I’d say, if you find yourself a new owner of a smart luggage item this holiday season, or your thinking of getting one, I’d suggest checking with the airlines on their policies and also ensure you can at least remove its battery before you pack for your next flight.