New Year, New Rules: What to Know About Traveling with Smart Bags in 2018
When 2018 rolls around, there won't just be a new date for you to write at the top of your checks. Instead, business travelers will be affected in the new year with new rules from airlines regarding baggage -- particularly smart baggage. Smart baggage can be extremely useful when it comes to business travel: it allows you to charge your phone, laptop, tablet and stay connected easily while you're on the go. But, thanks to safety concerns, airlines aren't sure that they want you to bring them onboard anymore. If you're planning to travel for business in 2018 and own a smart bag, there are some important things you should know regarding many airlines' new smart bag policy.
What is a Smart Bag (officially)?
You may think your 12-pocket leather backpack is a totally "smart" bag to travel with. But, when it comes to the new policy, a "smart bag" has an official definition. A smart bag is officially a bag equipped with a lithium-ion battery that can be used to charge your portable electronic devices.
What is the New Policy Regarding Smart Bags?
The new policy, which goes into effect January 15, 2018, states that travelers may only bring a smart bag onboard an aircraft if they are able to physically remove the battery and bring it onboard with them. This does not change the current policy, which many airlines follow, that passengers cannot check any lithium-ion batteries in their checked luggage.
Which Airlines are Implementing This Policy?
So far, the policy change is not a sweeping one. Only a few airlines have announced a policy change, although more are expected to follow suit. So far, the following airlines have announced a policy change
American Airlines (press release)
Alaska Airlines (press release)
Delta Airlines (press release)
Experts predict that United Airlines and Southwest Airlines will announce a policy change imminently.
Is Your Smart Bag Impacted?
If you have a smart bag that you use for business travel, you may be wondering if your bag is impacted by the change. As long as the lithium ion battery in your bag is removable, your bag should still be usable -- you'll just have to take out the battery before you fly. There are some popular brands of bags whose batteries are not removable, and you'll no longer able to travel with these bags. The most popular brand of bag that does not have a removable battery is Bluesmart -- though their new, updated bags will have removable batteries in the future.
How to Travel (safely) with Your Smart Bag
If you want to go on business trips with your smart bag, the most important thing you can do is remove the battery before you get on the plane. Keep that battery tucked safely in your carry on or your personal item. If you haven't bought a smart bag yet (but you plan to), do some research first. Make sure you pick a bag with a removable battery -- otherwise, the bag won't be able to get onto the plane with you.
Business travel today can be a complicated venture, with all of the new rules, policies, and guidelines to keep everyone safe -- especially if you don't like to deal with checked luggage when you're traveling for work.
Do you have any other carry-on tips, tricks and advice for fellow business travelers? Share them in the comments below.