December 6, 2017

FOLLOW ME: Most U.S. airlines set to limit use of ‘smart bags.’

The bags generally have USB ports where customers can recharge their phones and other devices. They might also have GPS to track the bag’s location in case it gets lost, electronic locks and a weight scale to prevent overpacking. Some even a motor to propel the bags so that they can double as a scooter or just follow their owner around the airport.

Airlines are worried that the batteries could cause a fire in the cargo hold that would go undetected. Most of the bans will allow fliers to check the bags if the battery can be removed and carried by the passenger in the cabin. But many of the bags already on the market have batteries that can’t be removed.

American was the first U.S. carrier to announce a new policy Friday to require passengers checking smart luggage to remove the lithium ion batteries. If the bag will be traveling in the cabin, the battery can remain installed as long as it is powered off.

I have yet to see one of these bag in the wild, but you have to believe that luggage following owners around airports will be the norm in the not-distant future.