a man and woman standing next to luggage

As if boarding wasn’t complicated enough.

The smart luggage movement has been dealt yet another blow. And this time, only shortly after yet another series of new airline rules changed the way airlines deal with these ever popular bags. Smart luggage is revered for mobile charging ports, GPS trackers and other handy trip savvy tools – but lugging it around may prove more trouble than it’s worth, as airlines pile on restrictions.

a black suitcase with handleGuidelines

For a “smart” bag to fly, its electronics must be easily removed. In recent January rulings from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), lithium ion batteries and electronics of any kind were barred from being transported in airplane cargo holds. Under present guidelines: If asked, you cannot easily remove any electronics from your bag at the gate, it can no longer fly. Overhead bin space is never guaranteed, so this essentially ended many antiquated baggage designs featuring non removable batteries. If asked to check it, you’d have to abandon it.


Last night, Away Travel – makers of innovative “smart” bags, sent an email to customer stating increased guidelines for smart bags traveling on Delta Airlines. The airline now requires luggage batteries to be removed from their power connection in the bag. This is regardless of whether it must be checked at the gate, or allowed to carry on board. It can then remain unplugged in the case in the cabin, or at your seat. The only new rule is it simply may not be “plugged in”, ready to give power when you board. Yes, even if it’s not getting gate checked into cargo.

a man and woman standing next to luggageNew Change

Now Delta leads. American Airlines was the first airline to announce “smart” carry on restrictions in December, 2017. This swiftly prompted matching rules from all major US airlines. In January 2018, shortly thereafter, a worldwide smart luggage “ban” began, bringing the guidelines barring bags where batteries could not be easily removed. It’s hard to imagine this new rule, adding further requirements, not to catch on to other airlines.

a green bag with brown handlesWhat To Know

If your rechargeable battery or luggage technology snaps out of your case – or can quickly be unscrewed – you’re good to go. You can continue using your bag on flights worldwide. But in the near future, be prepared to prove that the battery in your luggage is not plugged in before boarding Delta flights. We’d be shocked if this did not expand to airlines around the world. This certainly creates hassle for travelers. Digging through luggage at the boarding gate, just to remove hard to reach batteries is far from ideal. Make sure your underwear is packed in the other half your luggage.

Will these changes affect you?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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