Smart luggage is quickly becoming a must-have accessory for travel enthusiasts. And really, what’s not to love? They can have GPS tracking, long-distance locking capabilities, and host of other fun features that make travel just a little less stressful. Unfortunately, with this new luggage comes a whole new list of rules and regulations from the airlines. Some have strict rules regarding the use of smart luggage, while others outright ban them. So what’s a tech-savvy traveler to do? Don’t panic; we’ve got the info you need on the rules and regulations surrounding smart luggage and flying the friendly skies.
What’s the Danger in Smart Luggage?
While smart luggage can be fun and useful, it has a dark side: the vast majority of these bags come with non-removable lithium-ion batteries. These batteries have an unfortunate habit of exploding from time to time — a danger under any circumstances, but particularly in the cargo area of a plane. A fire could rapidly grow in the cargo hold before anyone noticed and was able to intervene (which is pretty much the opposite of what you want happening on your flight).
Rather than run the risk of endangering people, airlines have opted to ban smart luggage as a whole. That includes carry-ons as well, so don’t assume that your airline will let you stroll in with your smart luggage by your side.
Is Your Baggage Banned?
Airlines are quickly jumping on board with this ban. American Airlines started the trend back in December of 2017, refusing to allow any high-tech luggage on board. Alaska Airlines and Delta soon followed suit, making 2018 a very inhospitable time for smart luggage. So who else is just saying ‘no’ to smart luggage? United Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and international carriers like British Airways, Qantas, and Air Canada have all banned the controversial luggage. Not sure if your flight is on the list? Call and check before you head to the airport to avoid an unpleasant surprise.
Can I Use My Smart Luggage?
Admit it: you’re wondering if anyone will notice if you just take your smart luggage as a carry-on. After all, what could go wrong? A lot; besides the obvious fact that your bag could explode mid-flight (a point that is hard to overlook), you run the very large risk of getting caught with your contraband bag. Airline employees have been thoroughly briefed on the situation and are primed to spot suspiciously smart-looking luggage. Get caught with one while trying to get on a flight, and you could end up in serious hot water. The best case scenario is that they won’t let your luggage on the plane. Our advice? If your bag is on the banned list for your airline, leave it at home.
What Are the Rules for Carry-on Luggage?
To make things even more complicated, some airlines have different rules regarding carry-on smart luggage. American Airlines doesn’t demand you remove the battery, but they do require it to be turned off and removable. If you’re traveling Delta, you should have the battery removed before you board the plane. Alaska Airlines also allows smart luggage as carry-on, provided the battery is removed and the bag is turned off. As always, check with your particular airline before you start packing.
Should I Bother with Smart Luggage?
So does this mean you have to give up on the idea of luggage you can ride directly to your gate? Not necessarily; while smart luggage businesses are understandably upset with these new regulations, they’re scrambling to come up with a solution. Many are hard at work constructing luggage that comes with removable batteries. If the battery can be removed from your bag during transit, most airlines will allow it on board. Just remember to put the battery pack in your carry-on before you step on to your flight.
Is Your Brand Banned?
This ban covers a lot of your favorite smart luggage brands — much to their dismay. Away, Raden, Bluesmart, and Arlo Skye are all struggling to deal with this ban, which is having a negative effect on their products. Luckily, most have at least a few models with removable batteries (and we suspect many more are on the horizon). Here are some of the bags that can still fly the friendly skies:
- Heys Smart Luggage
- Samsonite GeoTrakR
- Arlo Skye
As always, the batteries have to be removable if you’re going to use them as carry-on. And with more brands dealing with the ban every day, there should soon be a ton of smart luggage that’s travel-friendly. But until then, know the rules before you sync up that smart luggage GPS!
Do you own or plan to get some smart luggage? What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments.