Recent FAA updates threatened to crush the dreams of anyone hoping to convert to smart luggage for their travel adventures. Before I get into how a new product is here to save the day, first let’s chat about the smart luggage saga’s origin story.
What is smart luggage?
Smart luggage is the answer to today’s on-the-go-but-need-to-be-connect-every-moment society. Regular luggage holds your shoes, toiletries, and underwear; smart luggage does all that plus some other things. Though there are charging stations at many airports, it is typically pretty hard to find an available one. Sometimes they are just willy-nilly in the gate seats, and other times they are isolated areas; either way, I can never find an open one. We are all so obsessed with our electronic devices, and considering we have to arrive at the airport 100 hours early, we often find these devices dying before we even get on the plane. What will we do if we can’t watch videos, play music, read books, and take selfies during our flight?!!? OMG we might be forced to fake sleep, and if we don’t do it fast enough we might get stuck talking to someone. Talking. To. Someone. We. Don’t. Know. Basically, a living nightmare. Smart luggage also boosts features like GPS, and, for those that don’t embarrass easily, there is even smart luggage that you can ride.
Why is it banned?
TL;DR: exploding battery concerns.
With several recalls on electronics due to battery issues, it’s no surprise that the FAA started to raise an eyebrow at smart luggage. These batteries – in all kinds of devices – were legitimately overheating and exploding and starting fires. There were already some bans on phones and laptops that use lithium-ion batteries in an attempt to try to keep us as safe as possible in the skies. Smart luggage wasn’t completely banned itself, but the batteries that it uses to make it smart were 100% banned from being checked, and only allowed inside the cabin if removed the bag. So you could use all the nifty smart features of your carryon luggage up until you got on the plane. The main issue, however, was that most smart luggage had a design flaw: the batteries were not removable, of course.
How does Away solve the issue?
I mean, it only kind of solves the issue. Now, about two months after the FAA ruined all of our dreams of traveling “smart,” a company has answered the call and created a line of smart luggage that has removable batteries. The luxury luggage company Away has designed a line of suitcases that adhere to the FAA’s new, stricter policies. The bad news is that the luggage is expensive. They have a cute carryon model for kids that runs almost $200. Adult carryon bags run over $200, while checked sizes range from $250 to $300. As a savvy (read: cheap) traveler, I would have a hard time paying that much for luggage, especially since most of its features would be deactivated for the majority of the trip. GPS is no good in my checked luggage if the battery was removed before the airline lost it.