Fears about the device stem primarily from their potentially combustible batteries, but a growing number of observers say that the unreliability of poorly made knockoffs and counterfeit batteries have heightened concerns. For those reasons, Alaska Air, United Airlines, Delta and American began banning hoverboards this month from carry-on and checked baggage.
"Most of the issue is [with] the lithium batteries that are used to power them," said aviation security expert Jeff Price. "Some manufacturers aren't accurately reporting the power of the batteries, and airlines generally dislike lithium batteries anyway as they have a tendency to overheat and catch fire."
Read MoreMore airlines ban hoverboards due to fire riskAhead of the end-of-year travel rush — when some travelers may be attempting to make their way back home with newly gifted hoverboards, United spokesman Charles Hobart said the airline was actively "working with customers if they need additional time to find alternate shipping methods for their hoverboards."
Likewise, Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant said the carrier was advising fliers to take care of shipping a hoverboard before they arrive at the airport.
"We offer our sympathies for those who might find themselves with an inconvenience after opening their holiday loot,'" he said.
Several international airlines, including British Airways, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand, have newly implemented hoverboard bans in place.
"We did a review independently of other airlines and came to the assessment that actually there is a risk with hoverboards and it not a risk we're prepared to carry," said ANZ CEO Christopher Luxon.
Federal regulations, meanwhile, make for a confusing playing field. A TSA representative told CNBC that the Federal Aviation Administration and the airlines bear the responsibility for enforcing hoverboard bans because "this is a safety, not a security, issue."
Amazon.com recently yanked some hoverboards from its offerings and recommended that consumers throw unsafe ones away.
Hoverboard makers have defended the safety of their products, yet at least some are sympathetic to the airlines' position.
"I wouldn't feel safe having my kids on a plane without knowing the devices were safe either," said John Soibatian, president of IO Hawk, one of the major hoverboard manufacturers.
Soibatian told CNBC his company's personal mobility devices are reliable and rigorously tested, and that cheaper, off-brand products are causing the problems.
"If someone's kid wants one of these, you see ours for $1,800, you see a knockoff for $300 and it's the knockoffs being put together by people who have no business in this industry that are exploding or catching fire," said Soibatian.
"We're working with Customs and Border Control to make sure fake products don't make it to the market and with a little bit of education I think some of these airlines will change their policies," he said.