Lonely Planet Writer

The rules for flying with smart luggage in the US are changing

If you were planning to buy your favourite traveller some smart luggage this holiday season, be aware that a number of US airlines are banning some bags due to the risks caused by lithium batteries.

Be careful when buying smart luggage if you want to fly on US carriers. Image by izusek/Getty Images

Delta, American Airlines and Alaskan Airlines have all recently issued statements explaining that new rules pertaining to the bags will come into effect on 15 January of next year. With handy features like charging docks, motorized mobility and GPS tracking, smart luggage has been rapidly growing in popularity. But many cases contain lithium battery packs, which can be dangerous when put into the cargo hold of an airplane due to the possibility that they will overheat and pose a fire risk.

Most people will remember 2015, when hoverboards became the most popular gift of the holiday season and created plenty of controversy when they were promptly banned from aircraft due to their lithium batteries. Now, some smart luggage is poised to meet the same fate. Customer’s smart luggage must have removable batteries, just in case it has to be checked at any point in their journey. If the battery can’t come out, you can’t travel with it.

Make sure the battery can come out of your smart luggage. Image by ©YakobchukOlena/Getty Images

According to a statement from Delta, buyers should be wary when thinking that smart luggage is automatically approved for air travel. “Many smart bag manufacturers advertise their products as being approved by the Federal Aviation Administration or Transportation Security Administration, which may give customers the false impression that all smart bags are accepted for transport. To date, neither the TSA nor FAA have endorsed a smart bag as approved.”

So if you’re absolutely desperate to make your holiday travel simpler with a brand new high-tech suitcase, at least make sure the battery can come out.