"Smart bags, also known as smart luggage, have become more popular over the last few months, and they are expected to be a popular gift this holiday season," said American Airlines. "However, smart bags contain lithium battery power banks, which pose a risk when they are placed in the cargo hold of an aircraft."
The bags generally have USB ports where customers can recharge their phones and other devices. They might also have GPS to track the bag's location in case it gets lost, electronic locks and a weight scale to prevent overpacking. Some even a motor to propel the bags so that they can double as a scooter or just follow their owner around the airport.
Airlines are worried that the batteries could cause a fire in the cargo hold that would go undetected. Most of the bans will allow fliers to check the bags if the battery can be removed and carried by the passenger in the cabin. But many of the bags already on the market have batteries that can't be removed.
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 [cnn.com]. 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 and Alaska Airlines 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.