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Airlines Ban Smart Suitcases, Luggage Over Risk Of Fire

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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. The policy change stems from the fear of a potential fire risk that the batteries pose.

Battery-powered tech, like laptops and portable gaming devices, have faced scrutiny from several airlines because they contain lithium batteries. Airlines have updated their policies to accommodate this as these devices may pose a fire risk. Smart luggage is now being lumped into this category as American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have modified its regulations to place a restriction on checking in high-tech suitcases.

American Airlines was the first to push for a restriction on smart luggage. Its staffers, beginning Jan. 18, will no longer allow passengers to check in luggage that contains unremovable lithium batteries. All American Airlines and American Eagle flights will be affected by this new change.

“Smart bags contain lithium battery power banks, which pose a risk when they are placed in the cargo hold of an aircraft,” American Airlines said in a Friday press release. “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.”

Delta’s new policy will go into effect on Jan. 18. The airline had previously banned hoverboards and other lithium battery-powered devices in 2015 for similar concerns.

“The safety of Delta’s customers and employees remains the airline’s top priority,” Delta said in a Friday press release. “Smart bags with removable batteries will still be allowed if the battery can be removed on site and taken on board the aircraft with the customer, similar to Delta’s policy today requiring customers to place spare lithium-ion batteries in their carry-on luggage.”

American Airlines and Delta’s policy change has led United Airlines to work towards creating a similar policy, according to CNBC. Southwest Airlines claims to be evaluating its current rules but is also considering making further changes.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has conducted 10 tests to determine that when a laptop’s rechargeable lithium battery overheats in a suitcase near an aerosol can, it can result in a fire. This has led the agency to become more restrictive over passengers that attempt to check bags with lithium batteries.

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