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Airlines restrict smart bags over lithium-ion battery fire risk

07 December 2017, 01:46 | Taylor George

Airlines restrict smart bags over lithium-ion battery fire risk

Airlines restrict smart bags over lithium-ion battery fire risk

Just ahead of the holiday season, three airlines announced that starting on January 15, they will no longer accept so-called "smart" bags or smart luggage that does not have removable lithium-ion batteries, due to their potential to overheat and pose a fire risk during flight. The airline is placing restrictions on so-called "smart luggage" due to concerns that the lithium ion batteries that power some bags could pose a fire risk.

American Airlines announced its ban on December 1, and other airlines have followed, including Alaska Airlines and Delta.

"We just want to make sure that if people are going to buy smart bags, they ask the question: Is the battery removable?" said American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein.

The batteries in Smart Luggage pose a fire risk that could go undetected in the cargo hold.

Smart bags contains Global Positioning System tracking devices and USB ports to charge smartphones and other devices.

Most airlines will allow smart luggage on their flights if the batteries are removed.

United Continental and Southwest Airlines said both airlines also plan to announce new smart bag policies soon. Bags with non-removable batteries will not be allowed in either carry-on or checked baggage. Most can follow their owners using a motor or can be used as a scooter.

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Passengers can leave batteries installed in carry-on smart bags, but must still be able to remove them in case they need to check the bag at the gate or on a later flight.

"We love innovation and understand why smart bags are so appealing for travel", said Mike Tobin, Alaska Airlines' manager of risky goods, in a statement. Batteries were also blamed for hoverboards that caught fire, also prompting airline bans. The only exception will be if the battery is removed from the bag on site and then carried on the plane by the customer separated from the bag itself.

"Many smart bag manufacturers advertise their products as being approved by the FAA or TSA [Transportation Security Administration], which may give customers the false impression that all smart bags are accepted for transport", Delta said.

Bluesmart said the company is organizing meetings with the world's major airlines and will demonstrate how its products meet all safety requirements and regulations.

"Before and at the time of production, we did our due diligence to make sure that we complied with all worldwide regulations defined by DOT and FAA", smart luggage company Bluesmart said in a statement.

While most airlines understand and approve of smart luggage, others might still be getting up to speed.



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