(CNNMoney) – Many smart bags could soon be banned on most flights within the United States.
“Smart luggage, also known as smart luggage, has become very popular in recent months, and is expected to be a popular gift this holiday season,” American Airlines reported. “However, smart suitcases contain lithium batteries, which represent a risk when placed in the hold of an aircraft,” explained the airline.
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Suitcases generally have USB ports where customers can recharge their phones and other devices. They can also have a GPS to track the location of the suitcase in case it is lost, electronic locks and even an electronic scale to avoid excess luggage. Some of these new suitcases even have a motor to propel them and they can function as a kind of skateboard or simply follow their owner through the airport.
The airlines fear that the batteries could cause a fire in the cargo hold that could not be detected in time. Most of the bans will allow passengers to check if their suitcase batteries can be removed and brought into the cabin. However, many of the suitcases that are already on the market have batteries that cannot be removed.
American Airlines was the first US carrier to announce new regulations requiring passengers to remove the batteries from their smart luggage. If the suitcase is in the cabin, the battery can remain installed while it is switched off.
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In addition, Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines have announced similar policies that will take effect on January 15. Both airlines will require that even carry-on luggage have to go without batteries.
Additionally, spokespersons for United Continental and Southwest Airlines said both airlines plan to announce new policies for smart bags. Together, these five airlines handle more than 80% of the United States’ air traffic.
Bluesmart, one of the smart suitcase makers, reported that it has sold 65,000 units, and that its most recent version has sold out. The problem is that its lithium batteries cannot be removed from the product.
“We are saddened by these latest changes in some airline regulations and feel that it is a step backwards not only for travel technology, it also presents an obstacle to and improving the way we all travel,” a statement from Bluesmart reads. The company stressed that it organizes meetings with the airlines to demonstrate the safety of its products and hopes that these new restrictions will be lifted.
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Bluesmart also says its bags comply with federal regulations set out by the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Federal Communications Commission. The Transport and Security Association announced that these types of suitcases are not on its list of prohibited items. But Delta points out that regulators haven’t specifically approved any company’s smart bags.
The FAA is already concerned about lithium batteries in warehouses. While it allows things like laptops to be carried in checked luggage, it suggests that you put them in handbags. It also requires that all spare lithium batteries travel only in carry-on luggage with passengers.
“The airlines’ action is consistent with our guidance not to carry lithium-ion batteries in the cargo hold,” said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown.