Several airlines including American and Delta are beginning to implement a ban of smart luggage and the lithium-ion batteries that powers these apparently smart bags. A bag may still be carried inside the cabin or, if it must be checked, passengers can remove the battery and bring that with them onto the plane, assuming the battery can be removed (most cannot). The problem, airlines say, is the risk of a fire caused by the batteries in-flight. The batteries have been a target of concern for some time now although the risk is relatively low. But, given the safety of passengers, carriers are taking no chances.
Now, the most important question: What the hell is smart luggage? We wondered this out loud when we read the news alert. Turns out, they are pretty remarkable suitcases that have grown in popularity the last few years.
These bags, while also holding your person possessions, have a range of features to help travelers with not just their luggage but other electronic devices.
The most common feature is built-in USB for charging portable wireless devices like phone and tablets. Rather than carrying portable battery backups, you can just plug your phone into your bag. Seems handy. Some include electronic safety locks that can only unlocked with an app or even a fingerprint. There even a few that provide WiFi connectivity right from the bag.
Maybe the most intelligent use of smart technology in this instance, however, is GPS tracking. Perhaps a traveler's greatest concern when flying — besides a lithium-ion battery catching on fire in the cargo hold and burning them to death at 30,000 feet — is lost luggage. You go to Denver and your bag ends up in Guam. With GPS, you'll know before the airline does. You still have no bag, but at least you can know where it is and if it is on its way back.
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But, if you really want to up your smart luggage game and look like a crazy person in the process, meet the Modobag. It will set you back over a grand, but it has all the stuff listed above, plus you can freaking ride it. Yeah, you can sit on the then and cruise around the airport in sort-of style.
You can charge your phone, hop on WiFi, protect it with an electronic lock, lose your bag, find it with GPS and ride that damn thing into the sunset and airport glory.
Oh, yeah, but don't check it or the battery might catch on fire and explode the plane.