Technology’s impact seems to have reached most corners of our lives — and the luggage industry is no exception. With concerns about keeping our identity safe, reducing the hassle of lost bags, and even keeping our digital devices charged, the tech industry has brought us a way to travel smarter and smoother. With the advent of smart luggage, we may be witness to the best advancement in luggage since wheels.
With any new invention come challenges. Read on for our take on whether smart luggage is a good travel choice and if so, how to make sure you get to your destination without a hitch.
What is smart luggage?
Smart luggage is defined as any bag or suitcase with a battery that delivers high-tech capabilities. With the promise of making travel easier, features can include the ability to: charge mobile devices via USB ports, control electronic locks from your smartphone, weigh the bag with built-in electronic scales, and utilize GPS tracking. Some hard-shelled bags even offer solar recharging, RFID blocking liners for security, and portable Wi-Fi hotspots. Most smart luggage will deliver a combination of features.
Is it safe to travel with a smart bag?
In 2018, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the U.N. International Civil Aeronautics Organization (ICAO) recommended airlines not allow lithium-ion batteries to be stored in checked bags in the cargo hold due to being a fire hazard. By the end of 2018, the TSA banned bags with non-removable lithium batteries.
To reduce the risk, stricter regulations only apply to luggage containing a lithium-ion battery. Even if your luggage has this kind of battery, you can still use it as long as it's removable.
What you need to know:
- If you want to check your bag, you’ll be required to remove the lithium-ion battery.
- Purchase smart luggage with a battery that can be quickly removed without tools.
- If you choose to carry on your bags, the battery can remain only in the overhead bin (if your airline allows).
- Because requirements can vary from airline to airline, always check their website (and any airline you may be transferring with) to verify their baggage policies for both checked and carry-on luggage. Changes can occur at any time.
- Be sure locks (smart or otherwise) are TSA-approved.
What about GPS luggage tags or trackers?
Newer smart luggage tags on the market are a great option for tracking your baggage and protecting against identity theft. Using a safe sensor, your bag can be monitored via a smartphone app. Tags like Dynotag are waterproof, shatterproof, and have no batteries to worry about.
Trackers you place in your luggage are also a good alternative. These devices find your bag anywhere with a GSM signal and are approved as long as it automatically turns off when out of range, making it adhere to flight regulations. Trackers like Trakdot will provide your bag’s general location and even show you where on the carousel your luggage is sitting via the app.
Consider some of the newer smart luggage that uses AAA batteries that are safe to check. They may lack charging capabilities, but will allow you to track baggage, control locks remotely, and include proximity alarms sent to your phone. For an example, check out Heys Smart Luggage.
The bottom line?
In short, smart luggage is a great high-tech choice as long as it complies with the TSA’s removable battery regulation and adheres to your airline baggage policies. Avoiding the trouble of scrambling to find open outlets at the airport, being able to track your bag via GPS, and protecting your identity are valuable assets to the frequent traveler. So, we say travel on tech-loving friends — and do so smartly.