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Airlines’ ban on battery-powered smart luggage claims a victim

Airlines’ ban on battery-powered smart luggage claims a victim
[Photo: Michał Parzuchowski/Unsplash]

Airlines and passengers don’t like it when batteries catch fire on planes (weird, right?), so to reduce the risk of battery fires, most major airlines and/or the FAA have started banning products with lithium-ion batteries. First they came for our Samsung Galaxy Note 7s. Then they came for our hoverboards. Now it’s smart luggage with non-removable batteries.

That move has claimed a victim: Bluesmart, whose smart luggage had one design flaw—it’s batteries weren’t removable. That meant that travelers couldn’t check the bags, as lithium-ion batteries can’t go in the cargo hold, and they can’t bring them on as carry-on luggage in case the bag has to be gate-checked at the last minute. In short, Bluesmart bags got grounded. That put the company “in an irreversibly difficult financial and business situation,” it wrote in a blog post.

While Bluesmart explored “all the possible options for pivoting and moving forward,” presumably including redesigning the bags to make the batteries removable, it said it will wind down operations instead, as The Verge reported.

Bluesmart is now closing up shop, and has sold its intellectual property, designs, and branding to luggage giant Travelpro. This, of course, leaves customers in the lurch. If you bought a Bluesmart bag, well, don’t expect it to repair the GPS tracker, weight sensors, or the integrated battery. Find out where to send your angry letters here.

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