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News Worms


Airlines moving to ban 'smart' luggage over fire concerns

Airlines moving to ban 'smart' luggage over fire concerns

So far United Kingdom airlines haven't followed suit, but a British Airways spokeswoman told The Memo that "customers wishing to carry in their hand or checked baggage any item containing a lithium battery (other than a mobile telephone, laptop or digital camera) must always seek approval from our safety team prior to travel". "We were in touch with American Airlines in advance of the policy announcement, and we're not pushing for exemptions or changes", Korey says. But li-ion batteries have the potential to overheat and ignite, as shown in dramatic fashion by the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which the Department of Transportation banned from flights last fall after dozens of reports of the smartphone's batteries smoking, catching fire and exploding In 2015, many airlines banned hoverboards owing to similar concerns. Airlines fear the batteries may catch on fire once on the plane. But if you remove the battery, the Global Positioning System function won't work. Bluesmart says it plans to meet with major airlines to discuss exempting its products from the restrictions, though Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for American Airlines, told NPR the airline won't allow any exceptions to its policies.

American, Delta, and Alaska Airlines have all announced that on January 15, 2018, they will require the battery to be removed before allowing the bags on board.

American Airlines and Delta Airlines have both released statements saying they will no longer accept such "smart bags" as checked or carry-on luggage if the lithium-ion batteries within the bags can not be removed as the batteries pose a fire hazard risk and may catch fire during a flight.

American's policy dictates that if the bag is carry-on size, passengers can take the luggage onboard, so long as the battery can be removed if needed.

These were the findings of the Federal Aviation Administration after extensive testing, which prompted a reversal of the security-based requirements to check laptops and large electronics on some flights earlier this year, and instead resulted in a ban on checking large electronics in luggage. The problem is, its lithium batteries cannot be removed.

"Spare (uninstalled) lithium metal and lithium ion batteries are always prohibited in checked baggage and must be placed in carry-on".

"The airlines' action is consistent with our guidance to not carry lithium-ion batteries in the cargo hold", agency spokeswoman Laura Brown said.

For manufacturers of luggage with nonremovable batteries, the airlines' restrictions are a blow.

The concern about the bag was first cited by the International Air Transport Association, a trade group that issues guidance but does not regulate policy. But now that we live in an era where airline security procedures are increasingly eating into the convenience of air travel, smart luggage also just got a lot less useful.

"We know these bags are getting popular", Feinstein says. To date, neither the TSA nor FAA have endorsed a smart bag as approved. "However, the battery must be removable".

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