Delta Air Lines Bans Motorized, Rideable Suitcases | WABE 90.1 FM

Delta Air Lines Bans Motorized, Rideable Suitcases

Dec 28, 2016

Note: This story has been updated to include comments from Kevin O'Donnell, the founder of Modobag, the "world's first rideable luggage."

The latest electronic device Delta Air Lines' has forbidden on its planes is a rideable suitcase.

Those are rolling bags you can sit on and ride through the airport.

Just like hoverboards, Delta Air Lines said the problem is with the lithium ion batteries.

In October, federal authorities also banned the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on aircraft because of the lithium ion batteries inside. 

"It's kind of our fault. We've been in touch with a lot of the airlines. We haven't been in touch with Delta. Our batteries are super safe and nothing like the hoverboard or Samsung," said Modobag founder Kevin O'Donnell about the airline's ban. "They're safer than most laptops. I think [Delta] doesn't have all the information so it was a cautionary statement on their part."

Lithium Ion Explosions

John Drengenberg is an electrical engineer and consumer safety director at UL, the company that sets safety standards for everything from toasters to lithium ion batteries.

"We want a lot of energy in our phones and in our laptops and in our hoverboards and we don't want to be recharging them all the time, so the lithium ion technology is great for that, because it can carry a large charge in a small amount of space," Drengenberg said.  

It's also why, he said, if the batteries are not properly manufactured, the chemicals inside can expand and cause an explosion.

“We've been testing lithium ion batteries for several decades already, it’s not a new technology, although the way they've grown and gotten into many different products is the reason that airlines have banned them, because many of them have not been certified for safety,” Drengenberg said.

Federal Battery Guidelines

Federal authorities haven't banned the rideable suitcases, but Delta Air Lines has. A spokesman said manufacturers were not providing enough information about the size and power of the batteries.

Federal aviation rules prohibit any device with a lithium ion battery of more than 160 watt hours on carry-on or checked bags.

Founder Kevin O'Donnell said the company hasn't begun shipping the bags yet and the batteries in the Modobag are less than 100 watt hours and certified for air travel by the UN, TSA, FAA and IATA. Modobag spokesman Tim Ryan said the lithium battery is certified on the UL database, with "formal testing currently underway."

"Modobag is powered by one of the safest and most advanced carbon-free lithium battery systems in the world," Ryan said. "Our batteries are separately enclosed units that pass all UN requirements for lithium batteries, while also being protected in their own compartment. Not only do they pass, they greatly exceed tests for battery safety known as the UN 38.3 Tests & Criteria for hazardous material transported on an aircraft."

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