Can I Take Batteries on a Plane?
by Daniel | Last Updated February 2nd, 2020
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Travel rules change every year, so it may be hard for you to keep up with everything as you maintain a grasp on what you can and can’t take on a plane.
If you’re a photographer, for instance, you will most likely carry your camera when going on any trip; you might be anticipating to take pictures for work or just for the experience. The question is, as you pack your bags, should you include batteries? If so, are there specifications on the batteries to carry or a proper way to pack them?
Batteries come with specific hazards, so there are rules in place to look at how travelers carry them for safety reasons. The regulations vary according to the type of battery or whether you have them in checked or carry-on baggage.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) implements the guidelines on the transportation of batteries to prevent any fire-related accidents. This article discusses all you should know about the rules.
Batteries in Carry-On and Checked Baggage
There are many guidelines regarding the kind of batteries you can safely transport in your carry-on luggage during your flight. Before going through the rules, it’s vital to understand the different types of dry cell batteries:
Lithium-ion. These include rechargeable lithium, secondary lithium batteries, LIPO, and lithium polymer.
Dry cell alkaline. These are the conventional batteries in our households. They include AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt, and button-sized cell batteries.
Dry cell rechargeable batteries. These include Nickel Cadmium and Nickel Metal Hydride.
Lithium metal batteries. These are non-rechargeable.
Flight authorities allow dry batteries in both carry-on and checked luggage. No type is limited, so you can carry as many as you want. However, the FAA states that you can only bring batteries for personal use, so large quantities which seem to be for resale wouldn’t be allowed.
The FAA rules regarding the carriage of lithium-ion batteries in a plane are a bit more complicated. Lithium batteries are common in cell phones, laptops, tablets, and other small electronic devices. It is possible to travel with them, but the rules depend on the watt-hours of the lithium battery.
Lithium batteries with 100, or less, watt-hours
You are allowed to have lithium batteries in your carry-on luggage as long they have 100-watt hours or less. This is the type of lithium-ion battery found on most devices, but you should always verify before you fly. The FAA also allows you to pack spare lithium batteries in the carry-on luggage as long as they are well covered to prevent damage and short circuit.
These batteries are also allowed in your checked luggage as long as they are still attached to the device you intend to use them in. The device must be completely switched off and not in sleep mode. It means that if the battery is in your laptop, you’d have to power it down before embarking on your journey. Loose lithium batteries are not allowed in the checked bags.
Be sure to have your laptop, tablet, and other electronic devices in your carry-on luggage if possible; it helps to protect your laptop from damage or theft during transit. Remember, airlines don’t claim any responsibility for devices such as laptops.
Lithium batteries with more than 100-watt hours
You can pack your lithium battery with more than 100-watt hours in your carry-on bags, provided you get airline approval before your flight. A maximum of two spares are also allowed under the same conditions, and they must be insulated to prevent short circuits.
The FAA doesn’t allow travelers to carry lithium batteries with more than 100-watt hours in the checked luggage. The rule applies to batteries that are loose or attached to electronic devices.
Lithium Metal Batteries
These are non-rechargeable. You are allowed to carry them in your carry-on bags, provided they contain 2 grams or less of lithium in each battery. Loose batteries are also allowed as long as they are protected from damage and short circuit.
You can also carry lithium metal batteries in your checked luggage if at all they are in a device. Loose, non-rechargeable cells aren’t allowed.
Power banks are small portable power sources that you can use to charge your phone without plugging into a socket. Most people don’t leave home without their power banks. These power storages are allowed on planes. In case the power bank contains lithium-ion cells, the TSA recommends that you pack it in your carry-on luggage.
Non-Spillable Wet Cells
You are allowed to carry non-spillable wet batteries in your carry-on bags, provided each battery doesn’t exceed 12 volts and 100-watt hours. A maximum of two spares is permitted. The spares must be well protected against damage and short circuit and marked non-spillable on the outside. Non-spillable batteries are permitted in checked luggage.
These aren’t allowed on both checked and carry-on luggage. The only exception is when they are used in wheelchairs, which must be checked. The FAA directs that wheelchairs and other mobility devices with spillable batteries can be allowed on the airline as long as the device can be stored upright. You should contact your airline to find out more information about traveling with mobility devices.
Several types of batteries are completely forbidden on flights. They include car, spillable, and wet batteries.
Battery Packing Tips
If you are planning to travel with electronics and batteries, there is a proper way to pack them to ensure they aren’t a safety threat.
If you have spare batteries to be used in place of the one inside the device, make sure you place it in a protective case. The case can be a simple plastic bag or any other package. Consider placing a simple piece of tape across the terminals of the batteries to protect the contacts from the risk of short-circuiting.
It is also advisable to store the spare batteries in the package they were sold in. This helps to keep them secure.
If you have electronics that already have batteries, package them in a way that they won’t accidentally turn on during the flight. Make sure the off switch is secure before you complete packing the electronics.
Packing Battery Chargers
You are allowed to carry your battery chargers in your carry-on luggage or a checked bag. In case your charger has an electric cord, tightly wrap and hold the cord around the charger.
Ensure you don’t pack your regular batteries in a rechargeable charger. Regular batteries aren’t meant to be recharged, so packing them in a rechargeable battery charger can result in potential safety hazards. The FAA has no rules in place when it comes to packing your battery chargers because they aren’t a risk to the flight. You should, however, refrain from keeping your batteries and chargers together to avoid any potential risks.
These guidelines can make all the difference when it’s time to go through airport security. It’s also crucial that you know how to pack these items to avoid missing your flight whenever you have to repack your items.
Incorrectly Packed Battery
As explained throughout this post, there are chances that incorrectly packed batteries can cause short circuits and ultimately lead to a fire on the plane. Even before you get to your flight, improperly packed batteries can get you in trouble with the TSA. You may be stopped for a more thorough screening. You also risk having the batteries confiscated, which will result in a loss of money.
Recalled Batteries and Devices
According to the 2016 FAA Safety Alert, passengers are outlawed from carrying any device that contains recalled lithium-ion batteries during their flights. This is forbidden in both carry-on and checked luggage. The only exception is when the batteries have been replaced or repaired by the manufacturer. Otherwise, they pose the risk of overheating or catching fire.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phone and some models of the Apple MacBook Pro have been prohibited in recent years; you cannot bring such devices on board.
Importance of Battery Regulations
Batteries may seem a rather harmless item to carry in your luggage, but there have been multiple cases of lithium-ion batteries exploding at homes. Flight security can’t second guess what’s safe and what’s not. A faulty battery can lead to an explosion, which can lead to a fire. Such accidents can put everyone on the flight at risk.
Rise in terrorism cases is another reason why these guidelines have been put in place. Terrorists have used various methods to hide explosives in recent years; some of these explosives resemble batteries. All batteries can’t be banned, which is why some regulations have been affected to keep everyone safe.
If you are not sure whether your batteries are compliant or packed correctly, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. There are numerous specialty electronics and medical equipment that you may be unsure about. Ask your flight service for guidance on the type of battery you are allowed to travel with. If you are a frequent traveler, learn the rules and regulations of traveling with batteries to avoid putting other passengers at risk.
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My name is Daniel and I am a full-time world traveler and constantly on the move.