The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
Over the last year or so, we’ve seen the smart luggage category grow dramatically, with some great new startups offering their takes on upgraded bags. There’s a wide range of smart bags available, most of which include any of a few features, such as GPS or Bluetooth tracking, built-in scales, remote locking and unlocking through a smartphone app, or a battery to charge your phone or tablet.
That last feature, however, is starting to cause some concern among airlines. Earlier this month, several US-based airlines announced that they would begin prohibiting smart luggage on their flights. The airlines, which include American Airlines, Delta, and Alaska Airlines, cite safety concerns over the bags’ rechargeable lithium-ion batteries catching fire in the cargo holds.
As we’ve seen over the past year, these fears are not unfounded. Last year, the FAA banned passengers from bringing the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone on board planes due to fears of the lithium-ion battery overheating and sparking a mid-air fire, while most airlines ban passengers from carrying hoverboards.
The Federal Aviation Administration has a longstanding recommendation against spare, uninstalled lithium-ion batteries in checked luggage, and the new policy, which is implemented directly by the airlines, aligns with the FAA guidance. United Airlines and Southwest haven’t announced similar bans yet but are still reviewing their policies, according to CNN.
While the concern is centered around these batteries catching fire in the cargo hold, where the fire can go undetected for a long time, smart carry-on bags are also prohibited. According to American Airlines, this is in case a bag needs to be gate checked unexpectedly.
There’s plenty of good news, though, for consumers who want to use the helpful features of smart bags. Under the new airline rules, smart luggage is still allowed as long as any batteries are removable.
This way if you’re checking a smart bag, you simply remove the battery and bring it on the flight with you. If you have a carry-on bag, you can leave the battery installed as long as your bag is with you — if you end up being separated from your bag due to a gate check, just remove the battery beforehand.
Fortunately, two of the Insider Picks team’s favorite smart luggage makers designed their bags with removable batteries, so they’re compliant with the new airline rules.
The first comes from a newer luggage startup called Away. Founded by two Warby Parker alums, Away offers roller bags in a handful of different sizes for carrying on or checking. The carry-on versions include a removable 10,000 mAh battery and two USB ports so that you can recharge a phone or tablet with ease. All of the bags are spacious and feature a hardshell billed as “unbreakable,” plus other features like compression straps and a TSA-approved lock. The bags compare to offerings from companies like Tumi, but, thanks to Away’s direct-to-consumer sales model, they’re roughly half the price of its competitors.
The second is a carry-on built by Raden. The company’s A22 carry-on suitcase features a durable Makrolon Polycarbonate shell which can withstand just about anything the airline baggage crews can throw at it. It also includes a removable battery, and a tracker and scale which you can access with an accompanying smartphone app.
With the holidays coming up, you can still feel confident about gifting smart luggage to the special traveler in your life — just make sure that it comes with a removable battery.
If you want to see more from Insider Picks, we’re collecting emails for an upcoming newsletter. You’ll be the first to hear about the stuff we cover. Click here to sign up .
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Business Insider’s Insider Picks team. We aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting, and if you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback.
Have something you think we should know about? Email us at [email protected]