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Travel Tips Tuesday: Safely Packing Batteries for Your Trip

Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Batteries

If you’re traveling on vacation this summer, you’ll most likely need to bring some batteries along, whether they’re for your camera, personal electronics or other battery-operated equipment. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has implemented safety guidelines for batteries being transported on airplanes designed to prevent fire-related incidents from occurring. TSA works closely with the FAA on potential aviation safety and security issues, and TSA security officers are trained to identify potential safety and security battery-related threats in carry-on and checked bags.

Here is the breakdown on what batteries are allowed and prohibited in carry-on and checked bags, along with some packing tips for safe travel with batteries:

Batteries Allowed in Carry-on Bags:

  • Dry cell alkaline batteries; typical AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt, button sized cells, etc.
  • Dry cell rechargeable batteries such as Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Nickel Cadmium (NiCad).
  • Lithium ion batteries (a.k.a.: rechargeable lithium, lithium polymer, LIPO, secondary lithium).
  • Consumer-sized lithium ion batteries [no more than 8 grams of equivalent lithium content or 100 watt hours (wh) per battery]. This size covers AA, AAA, 9-volt, cell phone, PDA, camera, camcorder, Gameboy, and standard laptop computer batteries.
  • Up to two larger lithium ion batteries (more than 8 grams, up to 25 grams of equivalent lithium content per battery) in their carry-on. This size covers larger extended-life laptop batteries. Most consumer lithium ion batteries are below this size.
  • Lithium metal batteries (a.k.a.: non-rechargeable lithium, primary lithium). These batteries are often used with cameras and other small personal electronics. Consumer-sized batteries (up to 2 grams of lithium per battery) may be carried. This includes all the typical non-rechargeable batteries for personal film cameras and digital cameras (AA, AAA, 123, CR123A, CR1, CR2, CRV3, CR22, 2CR5, etc.) as well as the flat round lithium button cells.

Batteries Allowed in Checked Bags:

  • Except for spare (uninstalled) lithium batteries, all the batteries allowed in carry-on baggage are also allowed in checked baggage; however, we recommend that you pack them in your carry-on bag whenever possible. In the cabin, airline flight crews can better monitor conditions, and have access to the batteries or device if a fire does occur.

Prohibited Batteries:

  • Car batteries, wet batteries, or spillable batteries are prohibited from both carry-on and checked baggage unless they are being used to power a scooter or wheelchair. If you need to pack a spare battery for a scooter or wheelchair, you must advise the aircraft operator so that the battery can be properly packaged for air travel.
  • Spare lithium batteries (both lithium metal and lithium ion/polymer) are prohibited in checked baggage.

Packing Tips for Batteries:

  • If you’re traveling with spare batteries in addition to the ones inside your devices, consider placing each battery in its own protective case, plastic bag, or package, or place tape across the battery's contacts to isolate terminals. Isolating terminals prevents hazards due to short-circuiting.
  • If you must carry a battery-powered device in any baggage, please package it so it won’t accidentally turn on during the flight. If there is an on-off switch or a safety switch, tape it in the "off" position.
  • Check out the Department of Transportation’s spare battery tips page for more information on safely packing spare batteries, and this FAA webpage for more information on permitted and permitted batteries that includes helpful photos.

Battery Chargers:

  • You can pack battery chargers in carry-on and checked bags. If the charger has an electrical cord, be sure to wrap it tightly around the charger.
  • Don’t pack regular batteries in a rechargeable battery charger. Non-rechargeable batteries are not designed for recharging, and become hazardous if placed in a battery charger.

Safe travels!

Lynn
TSA Blog Team

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hey Lynn, this was actually a rather helpful blog post.

May I suggest in addition to posts like this that the "Blog Team" address topics relating to flyer property and privacy issues in this same professional, non-snarky manner.

The great thing about a blog is that the TSA can quickly (for a govt agency) talk about important and hot topics so the TSA's reputation doesn't fall further down the crapper. So far though, this hasn't been the case, or when it has happened, it only further fanned the flames.

So keep up with informative, non-condescending posts and start posting about issues actually important to the millions of flyers in our visiting this country.

Thanks.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSA,

How many millions of taxpayer dollars has it taken to determine what "silly" and "irrelevant" posts will be discussed on this blog?

Submitted by Laura Monteros on

Why aren't uninstalled lithium batteries allowed in checked luggage?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Uninstalled lithium batteries are not allowed in checked luggage because fires involving lithium batteries involve a lot of heat. (Lithium batteries store a lot of energy.) The fire suppression system in the baggage compartment (where there's a lot of material—all the luggage—to burn) may not be able to control a fire involving lithium batteries. Since—unlike the cabin—the baggage compartment is inaccessible during flight, it would not be possible to intervene in a baggage-compartment fire if the batteries were to cause (or be involved in) a fire. Hope that helps.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Maybe you should do a post about breast prosthesis.

Absolutely disgusting behavior by the TSA.

Will the Blog Team be silent on this issue?
 

Submitted by Anonymous on

This was a useful post, I travel every week or two and it is good to know what the rules are. And the TSA people are getting better at knowing their own rules. I wish that there was more TSA Pre around especially during the summer vacation season. Since I have adjusted my travel to less congested times, I am getting through more quickly, but during the busy 6AM to 9AM timeframe, on Monday, I still see a large number of TSA people and only one line open probably half the time.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Are you allowed to bring your cane onto an airplane? Lets say I was 7 feet tall, 69 years old, needed it for a mobility disability and the cane was blue plexiglass with a silver handle. What should I do if a TSO confiscates and says "do I want to fly today".

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Are you allowed to bring your cane onto an airplane? Lets say I was 7 feet tall, 69 years old, needed it for a mobility disability and the cane was blue plexiglass with a silver handle. What should I do if a TSO confiscates and says "do I want to fly today"."

Anonymous -- if you get that response from a screener, I suggest you look them in the eye, wave your hand, and say "These aren't the droids you're looking for."

Submitted by Anonymous on

Mr. Burns, you must feel a tinge of pride to call this TSO your colleague in this nation's ongoing War on Terror. An exemplary American indeed.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Did I miss information on battery-powered tools? I flew home to build a deck for my mother and took my battery powered drill, long before TSA was born. What about today? I have them with both lithium and non-lithium batteries.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yes, you are allowed to bring your cane, or other mobility aid (e.g., crutches, walker, etc.) on the plane. TSA has a special staff that develops procedures for screening passengers with disabilities.  If you have additional questions or concerns, you can contact TSA's disability screening staff at 1-855-787-2227 or ContactCenter@dhs.gov.
 

Submitted by Anonymous on

Look, another bad apple!

LONDONDERRY, N.H. — A former TSA employee is facing several charges of possession of child pornography.

Officers said that more than 1,000 images and one video of what appeared to be child pornography were found on a laptop and thumb drives that Quinones kept in his personal locker at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

Submitted by Cheryl Martinez on

What a great post. These tips are absolutely great for travel. Packing batteries for the trip is indeed very important. Batteries should always be a part of the "what to bring" list in order to be prepared anytime anywhere. Thanks for sharing these insights.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Another bad apple" is a useless waste of time for the readers of this blog, who are not out to "get" TSA but to learn how to navigate the TSA system and get on their plane.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Careful, folks! If you fly out of Cozumel or other Mexican vacation destinations and try to carry on your NiMH rechargeables or other batteries, even if they're packaged carefully, they may be confiscated. Mexico, for some illogical reason, demands that ALL batteries be packed in checked luggage. (Which is the exact opposite of what TSA demands!) It would be very helpful if TSA would ask their Mexican counterparts to follow the same rule on the Mexican side of the border. (Of course, the Cozumel security folks may just want some rechargeables for themselves...I'm sure it's not the only item that gets arbitrarily confiscated).

Submitted by MBurgess on

I'd like to know why several foreign countries (e.g., Dubai and South Korea) said I wasn't allowed to bring my empty water bottle onboard, to be refilled by cabin attendants. They claim it's against TSA regulations.

Submitted by MBurgess on

I'd like to know why some countries (e.g., Dubai and South Korea) confiscated my empty water bottle, which I intended to have refilled by the flight attendant so I don't have to keep asking for cups of water. They said it's against TSA regulations.

Submitted by Ernest Iremiren on

there's too many tsa regulations sometimes it fun out of flying.

Submitted by Automated Machines on

Not sure of the difference between the lithium batteries allowed, and those not allowed, would appreciate it if this could be made clearer.

Submitted by Michael Gatty on

Question: I am a photographer and travel with large Quantum NIMH batteries -- I have no problem in the US getting these through TSA, and do so every week. I simply take them out of the camera bag, and put them directly in the bin. But in Mexico City, yesterday, AYE CARAMBA! They barely let me through, and insisted they should have been packed in my luggage. Thoughts?

Submitted by Floris Bakker on

I travel a lot with my family due to official work. One thing that I cannot miss to carry is my son's scootmobiel. My flight service providers have co-operated while me carrying his scooty batteries on flight. But one seriously needs to take additional care of them while transporting.

Submitted by Ryan Gow on

Luckily, the only battery that I always take in travel was mobile phone battery.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Could TSA please provide more specifics concerning power tool batteries?? Those batteries go from as little as 3 volts to 24 volts and many of them fit the definition of what's allowed, watt-hours-wise for instance. Because TSA doesn't specifically mention them in their guidance or website, however, (as opposed to laptop, cameras, and other type batteries) people can't be sure whether they're allowed or not. Many of these batteries are expensive. It would be very unfortunate and unnecessary, that someone would have to surrender or discard these batteries at a checkpoint only because the guidance is not clear or subject to the TSA agents' interpretation. Thanks

Submitted by Anonymous on

It would be useful if you could somehow check in on luggage for AGM Batteries, but seeing as they can leak with pressure and elevation it is understandable.

Submitted by Zach on

So can i take my LIPo batteries for my RC drone on the plane? do they have to be carry on or checked?

I am traveling to indonessia so are the rules the same everywhere?

Submitted by Zach on

1So can i take my LIPo batteries for my RC drone on the plane? do they have to be carry on or checked?

I am traveling to indonessia so are the rules the same everywhere?

Submitted by Anonymous on

So I am taking my camera with me. (one with interchangeable lenses) will I have to take everything out of the camera bag when I go through security because I wrapped everything up so that even if i dropped my carry-on they would still be safe?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why does the information in this blog differ so dramatically from this information at the FAA website?


Whom should we believe about non-spillable wet batteries or 12V gel batteries?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I was asking the same question... Confusing!

Submitted by Marilyn Phalen on

Can I take a Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank in my carry on bag? It uses a lithium ion battery.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm carrying a "2.4GHz 4 CH 6 Axis Gyro RC Quadcopter with Camera" with me on a trip back to India. Will it be OK to carry it in the carry-on luggage?

Thanks

Submitted by Greg D on

Are liFePo4 battery governed by the same rules as Litium-Ion battery? How do you calculate their ELC?

Submitted by Lunakilla713 on

Could I take a Lipo battery,it's for my drone will they let me?

Submitted by Unknown on

If I were to fly from the states to Canada would there be a way for me to bring my RC trail truck. Like pack it in either carry on or a checked bag? Or would I have to ship it ahead of time?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have an electric bicycle powered by a sealed lead acid battery. I've taken the battery pack apart and confirmed the component cells are spillproof and comply with both DOT and IATA guidelines.

Is it permissible to either take the battery on board a flight or to check the battery with the bicycle?

Submitted by Unknown on

Wat about a battery powered backpack on a plane

Submitted by Anonymous on

I want to pack in my carry on bag lithium polymer batteries that power a remote control car. Is there a limit to the voltage of these batteries that is allowed?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I have 5 small lithium ion batterys for my drone can I take them with my carry on and how

Submitted by Scott Sloan on

The TSA does not know these rules! I tried to bring 3 small lithium batteries for RC airplanes in my carry on at the BWI airport and they were confiscated because "no lithium batteries are allowed on airplanes." Really??? The one in my laptop was bigger than any of my RC batteries and they let it through. I talked to 4 different people, 3 TSA and a Southwest employee, and none of them were educated on your battery rules. Why don't you send this blog to your own employees first?

Submitted by Scott Sloan on

I tried to bring 3 small lithium batteries for RC airplanes in my carry on at the BWI airport and they were confiscated because "no lithium batteries are allowed on airplanes." Really???
The one in my laptop was bigger than any of my RC batteries and they let it through. I talked to 4 different people, 3 TSA and a Southwest employee, and none of them were educated on your battery rules. Why don't you send this blog to your own employees first?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yesterday I had about $400 in batteries taken from my luggage on a flight. They weren't lion or lipo, they were allowed batteries but I had them in a "LIPO guard" bag just to be on the safe side. I realized trying to be overly cautious triggered TSA stupidity so I won't do that again.

Submitted by Tom Morton on

I need to take 2 20 volt ion lithium batteries for my DeWalt drills on a flight are they acceptable

Submitted by Unknown on

Portable water piks on carry-on?

Submitted by GSOLTSO on

Yes, water piks are able to be taken in carryon bags.

West
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by The Quantum Goat on

can you take milwaukee 12 volt batteries in either carry-on or checked baggage?

Submitted by GSOLTSO on

The Quantum Goat sez - "can you take milwaukee 12 volt batteries in either carry-on or checked baggage?"

You can read the Q and A sheet from the FAA on batteries here (PDF warning)-

https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ash/ash_progra...

You can also read this post from our team here (amazingly enough, that is this thread!)-

http://blog.tsa.gov/2013/06/travel-tips-tuesday-safely-packing.html

You should be able to compare the markings/info on your Milwaukee battery to these lists, and make the determination as to whether that specific battery is allowed.

West
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Jeffrey Blattman on

Why do "spare" batteries need to be checked, but the gigantic battery in my laptop does not?

Submitted by Jon Yoder on

This was a useful blog. But I'm concerned with TSA at the airport taking my batteries which are $90 each x5 due to their lack of knowledge in the FAA laws. Is the FAA sharing this info with the agents at the security check points?

Submitted by Dronequestion on

Recently bought this drone. My question is, can I stow this, battery intact, or must I take it apart (which voids the warranty!!). And just in general, if this is disallowed, I can see this becoming a problem .... camera drones have become essential vacation gear at this point. And now that you can get any of them for super cheap, like under 100 cheap, i can see there being a flood of these things in airports. Anyway, just need to know if I can bring my drone in luggage...

Submitted by Unknown on

Can i take ecig. Rechargeable batties in Carrey on

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