Airlines Are Banning Smart Suitcases That Lack Removable Batteries

December 5, 2017, 3:34 PM UTC

Smart luggage—bags that do everything from charge your phone to act as mini-scooters in the airport—have been gaining popularity for the past few years, but several models are about to have their wings clipped.

American Airlines has banned any battery-powered luggage that doesn’t have a removable battery. The new rule goes into effect Jan. 15. Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines have announced similar rules. (United Airlines and Southwest Airlines are still reviewing their policies.)

At issue is the lithium-ion batteries that power those suitcases. Those have been known to catch fire on flights and were the same batteries in Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, which was banned from planes after several incidents.

Airline officials say they wanted to get the word out early to stop passengers from making purchases (for themselves or others) that can run several hundred dollars during the holiday season.

“We wanted to get out ahead of the holiday season given that it’s one of the trendy gifts for travelers,” American spokeswoman Leslie Scott told the Chicago Tribune.

Customers will be asked to remove batteries from a checked smart bag and pack them in a carry on. Batteries in carry-on smart bags can remain installed, but passengers must be able to remove them, the carriers say.