Just days ago we broke news of American Airlines radical policy changes to “smart” luggage. In the days since, Delta and Alaska followed suit, banning “smart” luggage with unremovable lithium batteries from flights. Now, it appears changes will likely be unilaterally applied across the airline industry – and fast.
Nick Careen, a Senior Vice President at the International Airline Transport Association, representing over 250 airlines was quoted after the smart luggage ban made headlines, noting that the group’s “Dangerous Goods” board was deliberating, to create guidance for airlines. Careen noted the instability of lithium and that it was priority number one in the industry. Thus far, American, Delta, Alaska, United, Southwest and Australian airline JetStar have announced bans.
Lithium Ion, which most smart phone, laptop, iPad and other electronics use as a battery is highly flammable. In a cabin, any potential battery fires could be mitigated, whereas in the cargo hold, nothing could be done in time. This is precisely why many electronics are banned from checked baggage. But now the bags themselves are the problems.
Bags you can ride through the airport, that can charge an electronic device or tell you where your luggage is – even if the airline doesn’t know is nifty stuff. But sadly, many bags were designed where the electronic component cannot be removed. If a bag needs to be checked for any reason, such as lacking overhead bin space – any bag where the battery, or electronic elements could not be removed, would be refused by the airline.
The IATA has not officially released guidance, but sources close to the issue point to a universal ban on smart luggage with unremovable batteries as soon as January 15th, 2018. IF your bag has electronics which can be removed and carried into the cabin – you’re good and can continue flying with your luggage. If not, you’re not. Definitely hold off on buying one of those nifty new luggage trackers – it may be riding with you shortly.