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Rossen Reports update: American, Delta announce plans to restrict 'smart luggage'

As airlines crack down on luggage containing lithium-ion batteries, TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen shares tips on how to travel safely with these electronic devices.
/ Source: TODAY

American and Delta are among several airlines that have recently announced plans to restrict so-called smart luggage.

Get Jeff Rossen's new book, “Rossen to the Rescue,” here.

The guideline changes are happening because "smart" suitcases and bags contain lithium-ion batteries, which pose a fire risk when they're placed in the cargo hold of an aircraft.

Lithium-ion batteries are found in the increasingly popular luggage, which boasts special high-tech features like GPS tracking devices, USB ports, cell-phone charging and Wi-Fi capability.

Starting Jan. 15, passengers traveling on American Airlines won't be able to check their smart luggage if the suitcase's lithium-ion battery isn't removed, the airline announced earlier this month.

Passengers with smart bags must be able to remove the battery in case the bag has to be checked at any point in their journey. If the battery can't be removed, the bag will not be allowed, the airline revealed.

Passengers will be allowed to bring a smart bag into the cabin with them, as long as they leave the battery installed and power it down.

Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines announced similar smart luggage restrictions that will begin on the same date.

Delta made its decision "due to the potential for the powerful batteries to overheat and pose a fire hazard risk during flight."

United Airlines is said to be working on a similar policy, and a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines told CNBC the airline was "in the process of reviewing our policies and considering changes."

While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn't yet have a policy regarding smart luggage, it recommends that devices containing lithium-metal or lithium-ion batteries — such as laptops, smartphones and tablets —should be transported in carry-on baggage and not kept in checked baggage.