American was the first U.S. carrier to announce a new policy Friday to require passengers checking smart
luggage to remove the lithium ion batteries. If the bag will be traveling in the cabin, the battery can remain installed as long as
it is powered off.
Now Delta Air Lines (DAL) and Alaska Airlines (ALK) have announced similar policies set to take effect on Jan. 15.
Both airlines will requiring that even carry on bags must have the batteries that removed.
In addition, spokespeople for United Continental (UAL) and Southwest Airlines (LUV) said both airlines also
plan to announce new smart bag policies soon. Between them, those five airlines handle more than 80% of
U.S. air traffic.
One of the smart bag manufacturers, Bluesmart, says that it has sold 65,000 of them,and that it most recent
version has sold out. The problem is, its lithium batteries can not be removed.
“We are saddened by these latest changes to some airline regulations and 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,”
said a statement from Bluesmart. It said it is arranging meetings with the airlines to demonstrate their bags’
safety and hopes to have them exempt from the restrictions.
Bluesmart also says its bags comply with the current federal regulations from the Department of Transportation,
the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission. The TSA said the bags are not
on its list of prohibited items. But Delta points out that regulators have not specifically approved any company’s
The FAA is already concerned with lithium batteries in the cargo hold. While it allows things like laptops to be
checked, it suggests they be placed in carry-on bags instead. It also requires that any spare lithium batteries
travel only in carry-on baggage with passengers.
“The airlines’ action is consistent with our guidance to not carry lithium ion batteries in the cargo hold,” said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown.
The concern about the bag was first cited by the International Air Transport Association, a trade group
that issues guidance but does not regulate policy.
Source : CNNMoney