Smart luggage company Bluesmart is shutting down and selling off its technology, and it has placed blame on the major airlines that adopted a de facto ban of its battery-toting bags. The recent ban on smart luggage with non-removable batteries, which was meant to reduce the risk of battery fires, put Bluesmart “in an irreversibly difficult financial and business situation,” the company wrote in a blog post today.
“After exploring all the possible options for pivoting and moving forward, the company was finally forced to wind down its operations and explore disposition options, unable to continue operating as an independent entity,” the company says. All of Bluesmart’s intellectual property, designs, and branding have been bought by luggage giant Travelpro. “They represent the best possible option to steward and bring forward our innovations,” Bluesmart writes.
Bluesmart was just one of a handful of companies making smart luggage. Its suitcases were regarded as the most advanced, with GPS tracking, weight sensors, and more, along with the integrated battery for charging devices. But the fact that the batteries weren’t removable put Bluesmart at a particular disadvantage. The major airlines — Delta, American, and Alaska among them — that adopted the new policy also restricted bags with removable batteries, but the rules on those were less harsh. (Bags with removable batteries are still allowed to be carried on flights and also checked, provided that fliers take the batteries with them in the cabin.)
The company was stuck with its non-removable battery design, though. Bluesmart had just completed preorders of a second-generation version of its luggage — which also does not feature a removable battery — just days before the ban was announced in December. Since then, the company has dealt with a number of angry and frustrated customers on Twitter. Some openly wondered about the status of their preorders, but many also demanded refunds and slammed the company for not responding to requests for help.
Bluesmart seemed to admit having trouble keeping up with the higher volume of emails and responses it was receiving. In the meantime, the only workaround the company came up with to skirt the ban was a step-by-step set of instructions on how to unscrew and detach the entire electronic module (including the integrated battery) from its suitcases.
As it shuts down and sells off to Travelpro, Bluesmart says it is no longer offering warranty support for its products. The company says its “servers and apps will be maintained for several months from today,” and that “functionality or service quality will be reduced in the future.” Existing preorders that have not been charged or shipped will not be fulfilled.
Bluesmart — which said it had around 65,000 suitcases in use around the world at the time of the ban — also says it will no longer handle returns or replacements. The company says buyers can attempt a return or exchange with a retailer if they didn’t buy the luggage directly from Bluesmart. Otherwise, a third-party LLC has been set up to deal with refunds and handle the transition of the company’s intellectual property to Travelpro. Refunds and other claims can be made to that third party here.