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Travel Tips Tuesday: Safely Packing Batteries for Your Trip

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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

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