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Alaska Airlines to put limits on 'smart bags' starting January 15

07 December 2017

USA based carriers American Airlines, Delta and Alaska Airlines all said last week that as of January 15, 2018, they would require the battery to be removed before allowing the bags on board. The airline is placing restrictions on so-called "smart luggage" due to concerns that the lithium ion batteries that power some bags could pose a fire risk.

Starting on January 15, both Alaska Airlines and Delta will ban smart bags containing non-removable lithium-ion batteries from being checked or brought on the plane as a carry-on.

American Airlines spokeswoman Leslie Scott told the Chicago Tribune: 'We wanted to get out ahead of the holiday season given that it's one of the trendy gifts for travelers'.

The batteries in Smart Luggage pose a fire risk that could go undetected in the cargo hold.

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Some smart bags with a lithium-ion battery, motor, and tracking device allows the bag to self-propel and "follow" the owner, the airline group said.

Smart bags are luggage that contain USB ports to recharge phones, tablets, and laptops. Most airlines will let passengers use the luggage if the battery is removed, but that may cause the suitcase to lose some features and most bags on the market have non-removable batteries.

Southwest Airlines and United Continental are considering creating smart-bag policies. Batteries were also blamed for hoverboards that caught fire, also prompting airline bans.

Tim Ryan, chief marketing officer at Chicago-based smart bag-maker Modobag, said its batteries are removable, though the company may consider making batteries easier to remove in an upcoming line of smart bags that are created to be checked.

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Under the restrictions, the bags only will be permitted on a flight if the lithium batteries have been removed. "To date, neither the TSA nor FAA have endorsed a smart bag as approved".

"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", Delta said on its website. "We have nothing against smart bags", Feinstein said.

"[We] feel it is a step back not only for travel technology but that it also presents an obstacle to streamlining and improving the way we all travel", Bluesmart said in a statement.

Bluesmart said the company is organizing meetings with the world's major airlines and will demonstrate how its products meet all safety requirements and regulations.

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Alaska Airlines to put limits on 'smart bags' starting January 15