Lithium-ion batteries have a pretty awful reputation when it comes to plane travel. They’re the reason why hoverboards began spontaneously exploding and are now no longer allowed on flights. They’re also the culprit for the briefly released Samsung Galaxy Note7, which had similar instability issues and also banned from flights. Part of the technology that makes lithium-ion batteries so powerful also leads to them overheating and as a posing a serious fire hazard. In result, new policies regarding the proper procedure for lithium-ion batteries on flights are being created. Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines have recently announced an updated protocol for passengers traveling with lithium-ion batteries, including items like smart bags.
What are ‘smart bags’?
Smart bags are typical pieces of luggage, but also feature integrated technology. There are a few different models on the market, but most allow travelers to weigh their luggage and even lock it through an app on their phone. Some can track your luggage using GPS. And others can even be used as a mobile charging station for phones and laptops. This autonomous smart bag is hands-free and will automatically follow the owner as they walk! As amazing and innovative as these new smart bags are, they unfortunately use lithium-ion batteries to operate. Due to the unpredictability of lithium-ion batteries, a debate has taken hold. Where is the safest place for smart bags on an aircraft? Should these batteries be stored in the cargo hold, where the Department of Homeland Security recently announced large electronics should be placed? Or, should they be in the cabin, where if an error occurs, it could be addressed immediately? Now some airlines are taking the lead and implementing policies that regulate lithium-ion batteries on air crafts.
Airlines restrictions on lithium-ion batteries and smart bags
Delta, American, and Alaska are the three airlines leading the charge on these restrictions. Both recently announced their decision to ban smart bags with non-removable lithium-ion batteries from flights. The removed batteries should then be brought in the passenger’s carry-on, similar to how passengers should bring extra batteries. If the battery is removable, the smart bag will be allowed on the flight. American added that in their policy, non-removable batteries will be allowed, but only if the battery can be turned off. If the traveler cannot turn off or remove the battery, the bag will be refused. These restrictions will go into place starting January 15, 2018.
It should also be noted that many smart bag companies claim their products comply with TSA and FAA procedures. This may be true, but they are not endorsed by the airlines.
Just the other day I was looking for a new piece of luggage. I frequently travel for business, and I’ve found carrying on luggage is the most convenient for short trips. I’m also upgrading to a piece of luggage with four wheels. As I began my search, I realized how tough this new quest is, considering the varying size specifications between airlines. Not only are these size requirements often changing in general, but they vary by airline too.
With these varying size requirements, I think it is best to stick with the Delta Air Line, United Airline, and American Airline’s size requirements (22 X 14 X 9 inches). The size is smaller than permitted by other airlines, but it seems to be the average size used. Some airlines do allow slightly larger luggage, like Southwest or Air Canada. If you decide on a piece of luggage, you then need to consider if a future flight will be with an airline like United or Delta. If so, you will be required to check your new ‘carry-on’ bag with these airlines.
Our new cheat sheet about carry-on luggage facts provides additional information. Keep it handy for carry-on dimensions based on the airline you are flying.
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Read next: Laptop Totes- No More Choosing Between Your Purse And Laptop!
Post-9/11 TSA regulations have forced us to economize. Gone are the days when you could board an airplane with a Big Gulp of Diet Coke in one hand and your roller bag in the other, while simultaneously juggling both your purse & your brief case. As we all know too well, TSA has completely nixed the Big Gulp and requires us to choose two of the latter three. And options are limited because the roller bag has to be carried (or rolled) on, otherwise you’re charged $50 each way to check the bag.
So ladies, how do we choose between our purse and our briefcase? If we opt for just the briefcase, we’re faced with the predicament of how to carry our wallet, cellphone, and lipstick to a restaurant for dinner. If we choose the purse, it means we have to put all our business documents, and our laptop, in the roller bag which then ends up then being stored in the overhead bin.
The answer? Laptop totes.
Retailers like eBags, and BagKing have incredibly stylish and functional totes that serve as both a purse and a laptop bag. These totes keep your laptop protected and your mobile office essentials fashionably organized, while also providing the space to keep your purse items within reach. Just make sure your new bag has the following features/qualities:
- Be certain that it will fit under the seat in front of you.
- Make sure it fully zips closed, just in case it were to tip over.
- Look for removable computer protection. This way, you can remove your laptop and use your tote as a purse for evenings out.
- Check to see if the handles on your tote coordinate with the handle on your roller bag as you might want to balance your new tote on top of your suitcase while trekking through the airport.
With these new bags, in all their styles and colors, you’ll definitely be the envy of the office & your fellow airline passengers. Plus, you’re easily minimizing your packing situation!
I’ve heard the stories, but I thought they were just that … stories.
Not until I recently tried it did I believe that you could pack for a week (or even two!) using a carry-on sized suitcase (22″ x 14″ x 9″, or 56 x 36 x 23 cm).
The International Luggage Center located in North Salt Lake, Utah has one of the largest showrooms in the world, having over 500 cases to choose from.
You can visit their website here—and be sure to watch their “Power Packing” videos.
I hope you are as pleasantly surprised as I was at what can be done with a 22″ x 14″ x 9″ piece of luggage. Think of it as saving time and money.