Smart Luggage: Your 2022 buyer’s guide

edited October 5 in Acer Corner

One of the most frustrating travel moments is when your phone is about to die, and you realize you don't have any way to charge it - especially if you've got a mobile boarding pass. But with smart luggage, you'll be able to keep your devices connected and charged for the entire journey.  

In this article, we show you what smart luggage and bags are so you can make the best decision for you when you travel. We'll also include a list of the best smart luggage based on your needs in 2022. 

What is smart luggage or bags?  

Smart bags are any luggage that has built-in high-tech capabilities. Most smart luggage is hard-shelled and has one or more of the following:

  • Device charging capability 
  • GPS tracking 
  • Electronic TSA-approved locks 
  • Remote, app-enabled controls 
  • Bluetooth connection 
  • Wi-Fi capability 
  • RFID blocking compartment 
  • Built-in scale

What does smart luggage do? 

Smart luggage simplifies your life by letting you charge your devices, control TSA-approved locks from your phone, and track your things by proximity or GPS tags via your smartphone. The RFID blocking compartment makes your smart cards unreadable by scanners - meaning your money and identity are considerably safer. 

Some smart bags come with more advanced technology features such as solar charging and portable Wi-Fi for when there's no connection. The best smart luggage options come with remote locking systems, so you don't have to fumble with those tiny combination locks. Given that so many of us need to be connected and often run out of power on our devices, a bit of smart luggage- be it a suitcase or backpack- is potentially very useful for all of us. 

What are some restrictions for smart luggage? 

Around 2017, smart luggage got a lot of bad press, and many airlines began to ban them. Initially, the airlines weren't concerned about smart luggage. But after a few incidents of fires and potential links between lithium batteries and spontaneous fires, some airlines banned them altogether.

In January 2018, some airlines banned all non-removable batteries in smart luggage. Many major airlines still have this rule in place, making that kind of luggage seriously not worth it for regular travelers

In 2022, the situation is very different. Now, the TSA website states that smart luggage is allowed for carry-on or checked bags, but the final decision rests with the TSA officer. 

Smart luggage with non-removable batteries is still banned. This rule applies to lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries, not your regular AA batteries. Smart luggage where you can remove the batteries is allowed, but you'll need to carry the portable battery with you and can't check it in. Delta further clarifies that lithium-ion batteries must have a power rating of not more than 100Wh. For more information, the FAA has a complete guide on portable rechargers.

However, some flight staff may not be aware of the types of permitted battery. So, it's best to confirm with your airline ahead of travel. Fortunately, these incidents are rarer as airlines inform staff of the new regulations.

Can you have smart luggage as a carry-on? 

Yes, according to the TSA. There have been instances of staff not allowing passengers to take their smart luggage, but this is less frequent. So, depending on the size of your smart bag, you can take it on the plane with you as long as it follows the standard dimensions. You'll need to carry the disconnected battery with you in the cabin.

If you check in your bag, you must remove the battery. Most airlines, including American Airlines, want you to disconnect and remove the lithium battery from the smart luggage for carry-on baggage. So, check a few days before your flight to be sure.

The list of approved Smart Luggage brands 

With the past smart luggage issues, let's look at some of the brands usually allowed on flights. 

After the ban, some companies made huge losses and had to close. Since then, though, a few brands have grown and are commonly accepted onto flights, including: 

All these companies produce quality items. Check them out to see which is best for your needs and budget.

Is smart luggage worth it? 

Whether smart baggage is worth it depends entirely on your circumstances and needs. For frequent travelers who need to juice up their devices regularly, it's a definite 'yes.'

The ability to charge on the go, paired with various other functions, makes smart luggage an excellent choice. RFID protection is a plus for people working away from home as it keeps your smart chips and identity safe.

For the digital nomad, smart luggage is possibly a must. 

Having the GPS tracker gives peace of mind, especially as the idea of losing your laptop and other devices- and all of your work- is very concerning.

However, for people who aren't tech-savvy, the removal of batteries at every gate or security check might be a bit annoying. There's also the risk of the staff not being aware that smart luggage is now safe and the ban is long over.

Then there's the question of cost. Smart luggage is more expensive than general luggage and baggage. It would help if you thought about the cost and benefit to you. Paying a bit extra for smart luggage- if it ends up saving your holiday - could be well worth the outlay. 

Best smart luggage 2022 

Shop the best smart luggage products to make traveling as simple as possible 

Best on a budget 

Wrangler El Dorado  ($71.79 on Amazon)

With five stars on Amazon.com, the Wrangler Eldorado luggage set is a great choice. This pair of bags are ideal for those on a budget. The set comes with:

  • Cup holder 
  • USB port for charging 
  • Phone holder 
  • Hard-shell for check-in baggage to keep your laptop bash free 
  • A softer carry-on bag

With its small size, this pair is probably better for shorter trips. 

Best for style 

Away The Carry-On ($295 from Away) 

The Carry-On also has 5-star reviews for durability and comes with many extra functions. It is a beautiful piece of kit, but it is much more than that: 

  • Ejectable USB charger for your phone and other devices and a cable that connects to any wall plug 
  • TSA-approved combination lock for improved security 
  • 360° spinner wheels for a smoother, quieter transition 
  • Interior compression system to get more stuff in 
  • A laundry bag to keep your clean and worn clothes separate 
  • Meets requirements for most major airlines as carry-on luggage 

Additionally, it comes with a 100-day return policy and a limited lifetime warranty. One negative is that the battery pack is sold separately. 

Best for durability 

July Carry On ($285) 

Not only is this smart luggage great visually, but it is also a hard nut and will protect your kit very well. At 42L, this is a very spacious bag.

  • Ejectable battery with USB-C 
  • 'Crush-proof' German Polycarbonate shell 
  • Aluminum bumpers 
  • Multi-stop telescopic handle 
  • Integrated TSA lock for security 
  • Laundry bag to keep clothes separate 
  • July Y-Strap compression system to pack more in 
  • SilentMove wheels for quiet travel 
  • Lifetime warranty and a 100-day return policy if you decide it's not for you

One negative is the C (Samsung style) charger. Some reviewers think you should also have the option of an iPhone charger. 

Final thoughts

Smart luggage is making travel easier- when the airlines know the rules!  

Smart luggage could be the way to get rid of the frustrations that meet you on your travels and could put your mind at ease as you travel the country and the world. Charge your phone on the go, track your possessions, and lock up your items with your phone rather than fiddling with tiny padlocks. You'll feel like a pro traveler with first-class quality and top-tier features. 

*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.

About Robert Stark: Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech. 


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