Alaska Airlines will put limits on “smart bags” starting early next year.
As of Jan. 15, any bag powered with a lithium battery or lithium battery power bank will need to follow these requirements:
- Smart bags will be allowed as carry-on baggage, if they meet carry-on size limits and if it’s possible to remove the battery from the bag if needed.
- If the bag will fly as a checked bag, the battery must be removed and the battery must be carried in the cabin.
- If it’s not possible to remove the battery from the bag, the bag won’t be allowed on the plane.
This policy follows the FAA’s general rules (PDF) regarding lithium ion batteries and also the growing concern by our industry around these batteries in our cargo areas.
“At Alaska, we are unwavering in our commitment to guest safety,” said Mike Tobin, Alaska’s manager of dangerous goods. “We love innovation and understand why smart bags are so appealing for travel. While these restrictions may pose a challenge to some of our guests, there have been no incidents to date with smart bags on airplanes and we want to keep it that way. As this technology continues to evolve, we will work with the industry and our partner airlines to evaluate all safety policies and provide clear guidance regarding the safe use of smart bags.”
Likely to be a popular gift this holiday season, these bags offer a variety of features, including GPS tracking, electronic locks and the ability to charge other electronic devices.
While rich with features, these bags are powered by lithium batteries creating concern for guest safety across the airline industry.
This week, the International Civil Aviation Organization determined that “baggage equipped with a lithium battery” should have restrictions limiting their allowance in an airplane cargo hold. This guidance has been issued due to the inconsistent nature of lithium batteries and the potential threat they pose when placed in a cargo hold.