On Jan. 15, many airlines around the world began enforcing a new rule that forbids passengers from checking in or carrying on “smart luggage” with non-removable lithium batteries. According to a CNBC news report, technology-powered luggage began appearing on the market a few years ago and some new versions of these high-tech bags can do a range of things. These bags weigh themselves, report their locations, provide power and Wi-Fi signals for gadgets, offer rides to the gate and even follow t travelers around.
Rule Changes for Smart Luggage
While those extras sound appealing, there has been industry-wide concern over lithium batteries igniting and starting fires. Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that lithium-ion batteries were parking airplane fires once every 10 days on average. These lithium fires led the International Air Transport Association to instruct its almost 300 airline members to slap restrictions on lithium-powered smart bags.
As of Jan. 15, baggage with removable installed lithium baggage must be taken as carry-on baggage or the battery must be removed. The bag can be checked in if the battery can be removed. If the batteries are non-removable, passengers cannot take the bag. In December, American Airlines was among the first to alert customers to the rule change. Other airlines are changing their check-in and boarding procedures as well.
A Hawaiian Airlines spokesman told CNBC that the airline is now reminding passengers to remove all lithium batteries from checked luggage or disconnect and turn off batteries being stored in the overhead bins. With these changes in rules, luggage manufacturers are now scrambling to redesign their products while others are making sure customers know how the lithium batteries can be removed from the bags.
Dangers of Lithium Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are by nature dangerous because of the way they are built. However, they are widely used in all types of products from laptops to cell phones because they are extremely efficient. It’s a lot of energy packed into one tiny package that can keep your devices running all day. But when it explodes, the liquid inside could burn your skin. These batteries have also caused fires inside aircraft, which has likely led to these new regulations.
Lithium batteries are particularly dangerous when they are made with sub-standard parts. If you have been injured as the result of a defectively manufactured lithium battery, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. An experienced product defect attorney may be able to help you understand your legal rights and options.