Sorry, business travelers: Multiple US-based airlines will begin bans on select smart luggage in 2018, some as early as January. The rule specifically looks at suitcases with non-removable lithium-ion batteries, according to CNN. Airlines fear the batteries may catch on fire once on the plane. The earliest bans begin Jan. 15, 2018. American Airlines led the pack, announcing their ban on Dec. 1. Alaska Airlines and Delta followed, and Southwest and United are expected to implement similar bans, according to CNN. Business leaders that use smart luggage may have a few options, depending on the type of luggage. 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. Otherwise, consumers may need to find a new suitcase powered through a different source. "We love innovation and understand why smart bags are so appealing for travel," said Mike Tobin, Alaska Airlines' manager of dangerous goods, in a statement. " While these restrictions may pose a challenge to some of our guests, there have been no incidents to date with smart bags on airplanes and we want to keep it that way." Smart luggage tends to offer features appealing to business travelers, including USB ports for on-the-go charging, electronic locks, and GPS tracking systems. Some also have a weight scale or a motor to follow its owner around the terminal. "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," Bluesmart, a smart luggage manufacturer, said in a statement. The company plans to meet with the airlines to potentially have the devices exempt, according to CNN.
You'll have to remove the battery if you want to check your luggage. Travelers looking to use their fancy new smart luggage may soon face a hard time getting the bags on a plane due to safety concerns about their batteries. According to CNN, American, Delta and Alaska Airlines have all announced that starting January 15th, passengers checking smart luggage will have to remove the lithium-ion batteries (or keep them powered down if traveling in the cabin). The site also says that United Continental and Southwest Airlines both plan to announce similar policies soon. That's 80 percent of the US air traffic, according to CNN. The report also mentions Bluesmart, a smart bag maker that says it's compliant with current regulations, but whose lithium batteries cannot 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," the company said in a statement given to CNN. Safety around lithium-ion batteries has been a topic of concern lately, with the FAA recently proposing a ban on laptops in checked baggage. Researchers continue to try and find safer alternatives, though none have come to market just yet.