Technology has brought great new features to travel bags. Smart suitcases, like those from Barracuda and Raden -- two brands I've looked at for this column -- can have features like GPS trackers, proximity notifications (to more easily find your bag), and built-in charging stations to keep your mobile devices powered up as you travel. There are even models that will follow you or act as a scooter you can drive around the airport.
But just as airlines can bounce you from a flight under certain circumstances, they're about to refuse you entry if you have certain smart bags.
At that point, you can figure that every domestic airline will ultimately join in. And, reportedly, the International Air Transport Association may set industrywide standards in the near future.
The worry is the lithium ion batteries these devices usually sport. Starting January 15, 2018, a growing number of airlines will ban smart bags that have nonremovable batteries, even if the device is a carry-on.
The FAA and airlines have been concerned about lithium ion batteries in cargo holds for some time. If they caught fire, no one would know. The standard requirement has been that batteries be carried by the passenger into the cabin.
The rationale for carry-ons is that if bins are full, a bag might have to be gate checked and still end up in the plane's cargo hold.
The problem faced with some smart bags is that their batteries are not easily removable, in which case they won't be allowed on the plane. If you've purchased one of those bags, you could find yourself suddenly having to buy another case from an airport shop and leaving your tech-infused case behind. That would be one expensive disappointment.
The first step to take is to make sure your case is one that will pass muster. Many do, including Raden's and Barracuda's. According to reports, Bluesmart may be the only company whose cases have a nonremovable battery. It is trying to work with airlines on an exemption from the ban. But until there's definite word, you have to assume the worst.
But, to be safe, don't rely just on having a bag with a removable battery. Know how to take it out, and practice to become quick at it. If you're in a line at security or a gate, you want to show compliance and be on your way.