Major US airlines will ban smart luggage with non-removable batteries starting January 15th

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Starting January 15th, a number of major airlines will ban any “smart luggage” that features a non-removable lithium-ion battery. Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines have all released similar guidelines in the last week that will prohibit these bags from being checked or carried onto flights, and others are reportedly considering joining them.

Travelers will still be allowed to check smart luggage with removable batteries, provided they take those batteries with them in the cabin. Luggage with removable batteries will also still be permissible as a carry-on item.

The move to restrict luggage with built-in batteries was spearheaded by American Airlines and the International Air Transport Association in order to decrease the risk of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries. Airlines have previously banned products like hoverboards and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 over similar concerns.

Tomi Pierucci, the CEO of smart luggage company Bluesmart, says in a statement to The Verge that the ban is “an absolute travesty,” and calls it a “huge step back” for travel technology. Bluesmart’s bags (65,000 of which are in use around the world, according to its website) will be particularly affected by the new restrictions because the company does not make the batteries removable.

Other companies that make smart luggage with removable batteries, like Away, are taking a softer line in response to the news. "Away's products aren’t impacted by the new ban from American Airlines or any of the other airlines. The new policies are banning luggage with non-removable batteries, and since every Away Carry-On has a removable battery, we're not impacted,” Away co-founder and CEO Steph Korey says in a statement to The Verge. Josh Udashkin, CEO of smart luggage brand Raden, says, “The only issue with some smart luggage brands is that their lithium ion battery is NOT removable. Raden’s battery is completely removable.”

In a post on Bluesmart’s website, the company says it has “organized meetings with the world’s leading airlines” in an attempt to create an exemption for its product. “We expect to have developments and positive news about these agreements within the coming weeks and before the various carriers implement these new regulations,” the company writes.

Away, however, isn’t taking any further action. “We were in touch with American Airlines in advance of the policy announcement, and we're not pushing for exemptions or changes,” Korey says.


That’ll certainly put a damper on lost luggage tracking.

Couldn’t you just use a Tile?

Would Tile have that kind of range?

I honestly don’t know, never tried one. But I thought "luggage tag" was one of their selling points…

Are the airlines being reactive or proactive here?

Proactive, there’s always the case where the battery can catch on fire. You never know what’s in someone else’s bag, where your bag is going to be placed inside the plane whats on top of it whats underneath it. The battery could be crushed by something heavier or soaked by something like alcohol (a lot of people seem to think a cardboard box is good enough to keep their wine or other alcohol safe)

I don’t see them frowning upon laptops in checked bags. Batteries can catch fire, but at least you gotta agree they’re not being consistent with the rules.

"huge step back" for travel technology

Dramatic much?

Are there any documented instances of any of the batteries in these bags catching fire? Is it against the rules to put other items that have batteries inside your bag (other than hoverboards and Galaxy Note 7s)? Seems silly if I have to pull the battery out of my bag before checking it but can have another device inside the bag that contains the same battery. Seems like they should just ban lithium-ion batteries altogether.

Well, it’s not like they’re going to wait for a plane with hundreds of people on-board to go down. People will absolutely cheap out on "fluff" like smart-luggage, probably order them off Aliexpress like they’ve already done with Hoverboards.

This might be fine for the US where you’re not really hassled for bringing batteries through security, but then step food in another country and the rules change. China for example prohibits them past security and makes you check them instead for domestic flights.
I learned, just bring one good size portable battery that can be put where they tell you to put it.
I always thought batteries built into luggage was not going to fly forever.

The last time I went to China, batteries had to clearly indicate that they don’t surpass a certain capacity, and had to be carried on board. Actually, no electrical devices were allowed to be checked in at all. Phones couldn’t be used in the plane even after takeoff, but laptops could. Lighters could neither be checked in nor carried on board.
I really recommend to inform yourself about the rules online in advance. They will actually find the stuff you packed wrongly and throw it away.

The FAA official policy

"Devices containing lithium metal or lithium ion batteries (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) should be carried in carry-on baggage when possible. When these devices must be carried in checked baggage, they should be turned completely off, protected from accidental activation, and packed so they are protected from damage.

"Spare (uninstalled) lithium metal and lithium ion batteries are always prohibited in checked baggage and must be placed in carry-on. When a carry-on bag is checked at the gate or at planeside, any spare lithium batteries must be removed from the bag and kept with the passenger in the aircraft cabin."

"Tomi Pierucci, the CEO of smart luggage company Bluesmart, says in a statement to The Verge that the ban is "an absolute travesty," and calls it a "huge step back" for travel technology." Isn’t the non-removable battery the "travesty" that killed the Galaxy Note 7…?!?!? Sorry, Mr. Pierucci, but your backwards company created a Li-battery-powered device with no removable battery. Prepare to be removed from the marketplace.

Company that makes bags with non-removable battery:

"Travel technology?"

Fuck sake, it’s LUGGAGE.

What’s the point of smart luggage without the battery….

The only "smart" feature I’d like to have in luggage is Rimowa’s eTag system. So far I think only 5 or 6 airlines use it, which is a shame…it’s a great idea. I’d never expect a carrier to tolerate a non-removable, Li-Ion battery pack.

All batteries are removable if you try hard enough…

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