American Airlines to restrict ‘smart bags’ over fire risks

American Airlines to restrict ‘smart bags’ over fire risks

American Airlines is implementing a new safety rule to address the potential fire risks associated with battery-powered "smart bags."

Passengers will soon be required to remove the lithium ion batteries from the bags if the luggage is being checked, due to concerns that devices could catch fire in the cargo hold. Smart bags that are being used as carry-ons can keep their battery installed, but they must be powered off.

Smart bags, which have charging devices installed into them, have grown in popularity and are expected to be a common gift over the holidays.

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But there has been concern that lithium-ion batteries, such as the ones used in laptops, can overheat and catch fire in the cargo hold, which is why the Federal Aviation Administration requires spare uninstalled batteries to be stored in carry-on bags.

The new restrictions will take effect beginning on Jan. 15.

“Due to a potential safety hazard, 'Smart' bags (luggage with charging devices) can't fly unless the battery can be removed,” American Airlines said on its website Friday.

American Airlines is the first air carrier to issue the restrictions for smart bags, but other airlines could follow suit.