Alaska Airlines to put limits on 'smart bags' starting January 15

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Several major United States airlines are banning smart luggage containing non-removable lithium-ion batteries in 2018.

American, Delta and Alaska airlines have all announced that as of January 15, travelers may no longer check smart bags unless their batteries can be removed.

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.

With the proliferation of powerful lithium-ion batteries, and cases of smartphones and devices overheating in flight, Delta said that a year ago it has equipped all aircraft with in-cabin containment bags in the event of a fire on board.

In an emailed statement, Laura Brown, a spokeswoman with the FAA, said the airlines' actions are "consistent with our guidance that lithium ion batteries should not be carried in the cargo hold".

Smart bags have grown in popularity recently and can feature built-in Global Positioning System and Bluetooth locators, USB ports to charge phones, and self-weighing capabilities.

But Ryan took issue with the way airlines' new policies treat all smart bags the same. Batteries were also blamed for hoverboards that caught fire, also prompting airline bans.

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One of the smart bag manufacturers, Bluesmart, says that it has sold 65,000 of them, and that it most recent version has sold out.

The problem with smart luggage is particularly noteworthy because airlines have been marketing basic economy fares that often don't allow for full-size carry-on luggage, thereby forcing those passengers to check their bags. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects to industry-wide "guidance to be issued potentially this week", a representative said in a media hearing.

Passengers can leave batteries installed in carry-on smart bags, but must still be able to remove them in case they need to check the bag at the gate or on a later flight. It said it is arranging meetings with the airlines to demonstrate their bags' safety and hopes to have them exempt from the restrictions.

What's considered a "smart" bag? Some even have motors allowing them to be used as sit-on transportation devices, or can enable the bag to follow its owner.

"Before and at the time of production, we did our due diligence to make sure that we complied with all worldwide regulations defined by DOT and FAA", smart luggage company Bluesmart said in a statement.

If it's not possible to remove the battery from the bag, the bag won't be allowed on the plane. "While most airlines understand and approve of smart luggage, others still might be getting up to speed". "We have nothing against smart bags", Feinstein said.

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