Airlines Ban Smart Suitcases, Luggage Over Risk Of Fire

Airlines Ban Smart Suitcases, Luggage Over Risk Of Fire

The bags typically contain lithium-ion batteries, which can represent a fire hazard in a plane's cargo hold.

Airlines are cracking down on checked luggage as its newly updated policies prohibit checking in high-tech suitcase's powered by lithium battery if it can't be removed.

American spokesman Ross Feinstein said the airline has had no incidents with "smart bags", but said the airline's new rules are created to align with the existing regulations.

Brands of smart luggage include Bluesmart (pictured), Away, Barracuda, and Motobag. Travelers should still power off the luggage when in the cabin following existing federal guidelines for lithium batteries. The pricey Modobag - which allows travelers to ride their luggage to their gate - does not advertise a removable battery. Even though the smart bags are sold as carry-ons, American knows passengers, at the last minute, may need to check luggage that does not fit in bins. The other major US airlines are expected to follow suit and the International Civil Aviation Organization has a working group among airlines and regulators to develop a broader standard.

The new policy from two of the world's biggest carriers takes effect January 15 and reflects concern that lithium batteries can start a fire and pose a danger to planes.

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"As part of safety management and risk mitigation, we always evaluate ways to enhance our procedures, and the Safety team at American has conducted its own analysis of these bags", according to a statement from American Airlines.

"If the customer is able to take the bag into the cabin with them, the customer will be able to leave the battery installed", the policy continues.

The policy applies to all flights on American Airlines and American Eagle.

"The safety of Delta's customers and employees remains the airline's top priority", Delta said in a Friday press release. This has led the agency to become more restrictive over passengers that attempt to check bags with lithium batteries. Only U.S. airlines are subject to the FAA rules.

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