What Is A Smart Bag? Everything You Need To Know

Are you a tech-savvy frequent traveler asking yourself, “What is a Smart Bag?”

Look no further; in this article, we define the Smart Bag for you. We also share some history of early smart luggage bans and explain policies around them. Read on so you can decide if a piece of smart luggage is right for you.

What is a Smart Bag (aka Smart Luggage)

The airline industry considers smart luggage to be any suitcase or bag containing a battery pack that offers high-tech abilities.

What Are the Tech Features of a Smart Bag?

  • Built-in battery or power bank
  • GPS tracking
  • Built-in scale
  • Electronic locks controlled from your smartphone
  • External USB port or USB-c port for charging
  • Portable Wi-Fi hotspots
  • RFID blocking liners for security
  • Solar panel for charging

The Issue with Smart Luggage Batteries

In short, lithium-ion batteries are considered a fire hazard. So in 2018, the U.N. International Civil Aeronautics Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recommended airlines not to permit lithium-ion batteries in checked bags that go in the cargo hold because of the fire risk. The TSA banned bags containing non-removable lithium batteries by the end of 2018.

Some of the newer smart bags use AA batteries and are safe to check. You cannot charge devices with them, but you can control locks remotely, track luggage, and enable proximity alarms sent to your phone.

So Can I Travel With a Smart Bag in 2022?

You can travel with a Smart Bag with a lithium-ion battery, but remember that non-removable batteries are banned. So, as long as it is removable, it’s ok to use as a carry-on bag. If you check your bag, you will need to remove the battery and carry it in the cabin. But, the airline employees may ask you to remove the battery and store your bag in the overhead bin.

PRO TIP: If you plan to carry on your bag, but the overhead bins are full, you will face a challenge.

If the airline employees tell you that you need to gate check your bag and the battery is not removable, your bag may not be allowed on the plane. The stricter regulations solely apply to luggage with lithium-ion power banks. Bottom line, if your piece of luggage includes lithium battery power banks of any kind, make sure it is removable.

What about GPS Luggage Tags & Trackers

When it comes to tracking your baggage and securing it against identity theft, newly introduced smart bag tags on the market are the best option. With a safe sensor, you monitor your bag through mobile apps on your smartphone.

Another good alternative is trackers you keep in your luggage. These devices can locate your bag anywhere using a GSM signal. They are approved, provided it automatically turns off whenever out of range, which makes it follow flight regulations. In general, trackers provide the smart bag’s general location, and the smartphone app shows you where on that carousel your bag is sitting.

With travel being so chaotic lately, I know many travellers who are using an Apple AirTag in their luggage. Some have even needed to use it to locate lost bags!

Apple AirTags can help you find lost luggage!

What are the Major Airlines policies?

Before you travel with your new Smart Suitcase, you should always check the airlines you plan to fly for your trip, including codeshare airlines and any transfers you may have. Some US airlines, such as American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Delta Airlines, set new policies regarding Smart Bags.

PRO TIP: You should always check the policy of every airline you plan to fly on so that you know if there are any new rules.

In short, owning a smart bag is an excellent option, provided it adheres to the TSA’s removable battery regulation and complies with your airline baggage policies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Smart Bag for Travel?

Apart from wondering what a smart suitcase does, you probably want to know the ideal smart bag for travel. Since nowadays we heavily depend on technology, one of the most common features of a smart bag is that they all contain USB ports for charging your mobile devices. Most importantly, you need to understand that they all comprise a removable battery that wouldn’t cause any problems when traveling by plane. Besides this, GPS locators can track your bag. Some even can follow you around or include electronic scales to measure the luggage’s weight.

Are Smart Bags Allowed on Planes?

Primarily, the new policy focuses on lithium batteries that power many standard smart bags. It focuses on many fires and explosions that have occurred involving different lithium battery-powered devices.

However, the policy allows smart carry-on bags on flights. But, it specifies that the lithium battery is removable in case of a gate-check scenario. 

In case your smart bag doesn’t contain a removable battery, and you encounter a gate-check scenario, you’re simply out of luck! In other words, that means that you will need to buy a brand new suitcase, transfer all your belongings into it, and leave it behind. And, of course, you will have missed your flight.

Is Smart Luggage Banned?

Smart bags with non-removable lithium batteries are banned. Smart luggage with removable batteries is permitted, but the removable battery must be taken out and carried in the cabin for checked bags. Furthermore, you are restricted to 100 Watt-hours when it comes to lithium-ion batteries. The same rule applies to lithium-metal and lithium-ion batteries but does not apply to AA batteries.

What Is a Smart Bag on Delta?

As of 2018, Delta and Delta Connection banned all checked or carry-on luggage/ smart luggage/ smart bags with non-removable lithium-ion batteries. Primarily, this is because powerful batteries can overheat and even pose a fire risk during flight. 

So, customers checking smart luggage containing a removable lithium-ion battery should remove it and carry it with them into the cabin. On the other hand, customers carrying on smart luggage containing a removable battery should remove it from its specific enclosure before boarding the aircraft. It is consistent with Delta’s policy demanding customers to keep spare lithium-ion batteries in their carry-on luggage.

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