Smart luggage is a recent offering that includes a myriad of battery-powered technologies. One brand allows the passenger to check in remotely via a smartphone app. Another has a built-in scale to prevent you from going over the weight allowance. There’s one that comes with GPS to track your luggage’s location with your phone. One brand even allows you to use the handle of the suitcase to access your phone to make calls, play music, take photos, and send text messages. These modern features are the first major updates to travel gear since the wheel.
However, some airlines are banning them due to fears that defective or damaged batteries can overheat and pose a fire hazard. American, Delta, United, Southwest, and Alaska Airlines have announced that unless passengers can remove the lithium-ion batteries, they will be prohibited from checking in smart bags or bringing them on board as a carry-on.
Smart luggage is not currently in widespread use, but WestJet estimates it will increase in popularity in the near future. The airline has expressed its intent to adopt similar policies as the other carriers when the time comes and hopes for consistency among airlines so the guidelines are clear to passengers.
Smart bag manufacturers have strongly protested the ban. They consider the policy “a step back not only for travel technology, but it also presents an obstacle to streamlining and improving the way we all travel.” To be fair, they argue, the ban should extend to smartphones, digital cameras, and laptops, since they also contain lithium-ion battery packs that can present a similar fire hazard.
Air Canada will continue to allow any smart luggage as a carry-on whether the battery pack can be removed or not, but when checked in, the battery needs to be removed and placed in a carry-on bag.
Translated by Cecilia