Tim Ryan, chief marketing officer at Chicago-based smart bag-maker Modobag, said its batteries are removable, though the company may consider making batteries easier to remove in an upcoming line of smart bags that are created to be checked.
"The concern that airlines have is that power banks [like those installed on smart bags] have features prominently in fire incidents onboard", said IATA's David Brennan, who specializes in policies on the carriage of risky goods by air.
Competitor Raden boasts cases "purposely designed with a battery that can be easily removed in a matter of moments", the company said in an email. Alaska Airlines and Delta followed, and Southwest and United are expected to implement similar bans, according to CNN. Forcing customers to strip out the batteries makes them far less convenient and would undermine some of the key features like Global Positioning System tracking, which is supposed to keep smart bags from being lost in airline bag hell.
Effective Jan. 15, 2018, Delta and Delta Connection will no longer accept as checked or carry-on luggage so-called "smart bags" or smart luggage with non-removable lithium-ion batteries, due to the potential for the powerful batteries to overheat and pose a fire hazard risk during flight.
But the heydays of electronic luggage are at an end, at least for smart bags with built-in Lithium-Ion batteries.
Bluesmart also says its bags comply with the current federal regulations from the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission.
"Spare (uninstalled) lithium metal and lithium ion batteries are always prohibited in checked baggage and must be placed in carry-on".
For manufacturers of luggage with nonremovable batteries, the airlines' restrictions are a blow. Also, the International Air Transport Association has provided guidance on restricting the carrying of smart bags on board.
"The airlines' action is consistent with our guidance to not carry lithium ion batteries in the cargo hold", said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown.
Other companies that make smart luggage with removable batteries, like Away, are taking a softer line in response to the news.
In a statement to CNN, Bluesmart wrote that they are "saddened by these latest changes to some airline regulations and feel it is a step back not only for travel technology, but that it also presents an obstacle to streamlining and improving the way we all travel". To date, neither the TSA nor FAA have endorsed a smart bag as approved.
"As we speak, we are talking with the airlines so they can review our products and get the proper exemptions in place", Tomi Pierucci, co-founder and CEO of Bluesmart told Forbes.
One can only assume that there's a security risk from non-removable batteries that airport security can't check-out.