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One of the year’s top holiday gifts is on the no-fly list.
James Martin/CNET
You are now free to move about the cabin, as long as you’re not on a hoverboard.
This holiday season’s hottest gift, and we mean literally hot, has been banned by most major US airlines. American, Delta and United said this week that hoverboards are not allowed in carry-on or checked baggage due to safety concerns about their batteries catching fire.
Those companies join Jet Blue, Alaska, Hawaiian and a growing list of other airlines that have already banned the two-wheeled, motorized self-balancing boards. In fact, Southwest Airlines may be one of the only US options for hoverboard-toting passengers.
The bans come as US regulators investigate reports of hoverboards catching fire or exploding. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received “at least 10” reports of hoverboard fires, spokesman Scott Wolfson told NBC News on Thursday.
Hoverboards, which range in price from $200 to $1,500, shot to the top of many wish lists this year after celebrities like Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner posted shots of themselves zipping around (and falling off) the boards. This month, however, there have been reports of boards catching fire and videos that purport to show such incidents. Online retailer Overstock.com even said Wednesday that it will no longer sell them because of safety concerns.

The fires are possibly due to the overheating of the boards’ lithium-ion batteries.

“Poorly labeled, powerful lithium-ion batteries powering hoverboards are the issue,” Delta wrote Thursday in a blog post explaining its decision. “Delta reviewed hoverboard product specifications and found that manufacturers do not consistently provide detail about the size or power of their lithium-ion batteries.”
Under Federal Aviation Administration guidelines (PDF), airline passengers are allowed to bring lithium-ion batteries in their carry-on luggage as long as the batteries don’t exceed 160 watt hours per battery.
Southwest is one the few remaining US airlines to still allow hoverboards as long as their batteries are within FAA guidelines.

Southwest prefers that passengers treat hoverboards as carry-on items, but it allows the boards in checked baggage as long as the battery can be removed or the board is “designed to prevent unintentional activation.” The airline lists allowable battery types on its website.
Southwest did not respond to a request for comment.
If airline bans and the threat of injury aren’t enough to dissuade you from buying a hoverboard, at least make an informed decision on your purchase. CNET’s Brian Tong tested several hoverboards. In the video below, he gives you a rundown.

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