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. The safety of Delta's customers and employees remains the airline's top priority.
Customers checking a smart bag with a removable lithium ion battery must remove it and take it with them into the cabin. Customers carrying-on a smart bag containing a removable lithium ion battery must remove it from the designed enclosure prior to boarding the aircraft. This is consistent with Delta's policy today requiring customers to place spare lithium-ion batteries in their carry-on luggage.
Smart bags have grown in popularity in the past year and often include lithium-ion batteries to power built-in features like GPS and Bluetooth locators, weight scales that prevent overpacking, USB ports to charge personal devices and motors to propel the bag.*
Delta in 2015 banned hoverboards and other battery-powered self-balancing personal transportation devices over similar concerns. As with the hoverboard ban, other airlines, including American Airlines, have also implemented a smart bags ban. Also, the International Air Transport Association has provided guidance on restricting the carrying of smart bags on board.
Many smart bag manufacturers advertise their products as being approved by the Federal Aviation Administration or Transportation Security Administration, which may give customers the false impression that all smart bags are accepted for transport. To date, neither the TSA nor FAA have endorsed a smart bag as approved.
With the proliferation of powerful lithium-ion batteries used in devices, and as a result of high-profile instances of overheating smartphones and other devices in flight, Delta last year equipped all of its aircraft as well as regional jets operated by its Delta Connection partners with in-cabin containment bags in the event a device powered by a lithium-ion battery experiences a thermal runaway event or fire on board.
*NOTE: Smart bags with a motor allowing them to be used as personal transportation devices, either as stand-up scooters or sit-on vehicles, do not meet the definition of mobility devices.
The second paragraph of this article has been edited for clarity.