A new (ish) technology in an uncertain regulatory space, smart luggage enjoyed a spike in sales thanks in part to podcast plugs and online marketing.
This practical innovation has seen its fair share of ups and downs, leaving many travelers asking whether smart bags are worth the investment.
Long story short, these charging bags will add value to your travel experience, especially if you’ve got devices to charge (chances, are, you relate).
Here, we’ll look at the rules governing the smart luggage space, and some sleek options for your next trip.
What is smart luggage?
So, for those who don’t know, or feel that luggage doesn’t need disruption, smart luggage is a term for luggage that comes with some added features. Most notably, smart luggage comes with a portable battery pack that charges your phone, no outlet required.
Features might include the following:
- Battery pack for charging
- Mobile app
- GPS tracking
- Weight sensors
- USB-C/USB-A ports
- Bluetooth enabled lock
Smart luggage comes in the form of carry-ons and checked baggage, as well as lighter options like duffels and backpacks.
With checked bags, smart luggage might not have as many benefits as you’ll get with the carry-on. As per FAA regulations, things like GPS tracking won’t work, as you’ll need to shut off the device — or ideally, remove the battery before dropping off your bag.
Below, we’ve included a few options for kicking off your smart luggage search.
eBags offers smart luggage that charges your bag while you’re hanging around at the airport, whether it’s a layover or the time between the first boarding announcement and when it’s actually time to get in line.
What we liked about eBags was, you’re not limited to one brand like you are with some of these internet start-ups like Away or Bluesmart (RIP).
Instead, you can browse through various carry-ons from backpacks to weekenders to compact suitcases with a hard, protective shell.
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Away is likely one of the most recognizable brands in the smart luggage game. The suitcase company is well-known for advertising by podcast and Instagram and has become popular with consumers, too.
The luggage is more than hype, though — it’s quite well made. Shoppers can choose between a smart suitcase or a regular; the former comes with an ejectable battery, while the latter is a beautiful, but standard, carry-on. Do take note that larger bags do not come with batteries.
Away luggage comes in several sizes, but the style is consistent across the brand. Baggage comes in a range of solid colors, with a protective shell.
Additionally, bags come with TSA-approved locks for an additional layer of protection.
The Gravity Roll or G-RO is a unique-looking carry-on with a removable power bank, two USB charging ports, and big, rolling wheels, that according to the site can handle any terrain.
Spacious, yet compact, the G-RO has an appealing aesthetic for anyone looking for a standout piece of technology and plenty of room for all of your travel necessities.
While the $445 price tag might seem steep, this is a real investment piece. The G-RO is made from durable materials, with a lifetime guarantee on those signature wheels.
Arlo Skye is a brand specializing in minimalist suitcases that look as though they were designed for the future. Suitcases come in different sizes and colors, but all share a similar design, with no zippers in sight. Instead, the bags close with two combination locks (approved by the FAA) for added security.
Electronics-wise, Arlo Skye bags come equipped with removable chargers and two USB ports. You know so that you can charge your phone and computer at the same time.
What about the FAA crackdown?
Alright, we couldn’t have a conversation about smart luggage without mentioning FAA restrictions. At the end of 2017, airlines began restricting the use of smart luggage because the lithium-ion batteries found in the devices pose a fire risk.
And while there was a bit of uncertainty in the space at the time — smart bags aren’t outlawed. They’re here to stay, provided you follow the rules.
According to the FAA website, devices containing lithium metal or lithium ion batteries must be carried in carry-on luggage. If they are checked, devices containing those batteries must be powered off.
It gets a little complicated when the bag itself includes a battery. Rules vary by airline, but in general, the FAA requires that travelers pop out the battery before going through security or checking the bag. American Airlines does allow the batteries in carry-on bags, but you will need to turn them off before boarding.