Flying with batteries on a plane is possible in most circumstances. The rules around them can be irritating but they are in place for flight safety so we can’t complain too much.
You need to identify what kind of battery you are taking because not all batteries are treated equally.
Any batteries you take with you on planes should be for personal use. Don’t go trying to buy a bunch of batteries on vacation that you think you can sell back home for more!
The short answer is, yes you can bring most batteries on planes, but spare lithium batteries and large lithium batteries like battery packs deserve special attention. It’s worth reading this post to understand the nuances about traveling with batteries.
The full post will only take a few minutes to read and you’ll soon be an expert on batteries in luggage.
Let’s power-through and get you trained up!
TSA Battery Rules
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sets the rules about what batteries are allowed on planes.
And it’s the job of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to enforce those rules and make sure no prohibited batteries make it into either carry-on baggage or checked baggage.
The following chart summarizes what kinds of batteries the TSA allow you to take on planes:
|Kind Of Battery||Carry-on In Device||Carry-on Spare||Checked In Device||Checked Spare|
|Dry Alkaline Batteries (AA, AAA, C, D)||Yes||Yes but protect from damage and short circuit||Yes||Yes but protect from damage and short circuit|
|Dry Rechargeable NiMH NiCAD (AA, AAA, C, D)||Yes||Yes but protect from damage and short circuit||Yes||Yes but protect from damage and short circuit|
|Lithium Ion Under 100 watt hours||Yes||Yes but protect from damage and short circuit||Yes||No|
|Lithium-ion 101 – 160 watt hours||Yes, but airline approval required.||Yes, but airlines approval required and protect from damage and short circuit||No||No|
|Lithium Metal Under 2 grams lithium per battery (AA, AAA, coin-like batteries for watches etc)||Yes||Yes but protect from damage and short circuit||Yes||No|
|Nonspillable wet batteries||Yes||Yes but protect from damage and short circuit||Yes||Yes but protect from damage and short circuit|
Lithium Ion Batteries Under 100 Watt Hours
Lithium batteries power many of our modern electronic devices like cameras, laptops, tablets, cell phones, kindles, or portable vacuum cleaners.
Carry On Baggage
You can pack smaller lithium batteries in carry-on baggage without restriction if they are under 100 watt hours. These can either be in the device or spare batteries.
If your batteries are not in the device then you need to protect them from damage or short circuit.
This means don’t pack your spare batteries at the bottom of your bag so that slamming the bag down could damage the battery.
A short circuit could occur when the positive and negative ends of the battery are connected by a piece of metal. For example, a loose coin in your bag could press up against the terminals of the battery and connect them.
This is a fire risk and it’s why you should also pack your spare batteries carefully in a separate bag and make sure there are no coins or metal objects that could cause a short circuit.
You can only pack lithium batteries in checked baggage if they are inside the equipment. You are not permitted to pack spare lithium batteries in checked bags.
This is because when a battery is inside a laptop or a camera the risk of short circuit and fire is minimal. It’s spare batteries with exposed positive and negative terminals that pose the greatest risk for fire.
Fires in the luggage hold of a plane can be catastrophic. This is why batteries are best packed in carry-on luggage. Should a fire occur it will be able to be extinguished (remember those exploding samsung note 7 cell phones?).
Electronics are usually valuable items and it makes a lot of sense to pack valuables in hand luggage anyway. Items can go missing from checked luggage or be damaged by cases being thrown around.
For this reason, we advise packing all electronic devices and their batteries in hand luggage. The TSA and the FAA also recommend packing all lithium-ion batteries in carry-on luggage if possible.
Lithium Ion Batteries Above 100 Watt Hours
Most electronic devices have batteries that are under 100 wh but battery packs or external battery chargers can sometimes have a capacity greater than 100 wh.
Carry on Bags
If your airline approves it you can bring a maximum of 2 larger lithium-ion batteries that are between 101 and 160 watt hours in your hand luggage.
Or alternatively, you can pack 1 battery that is between 101 and 300 watt hours.
For carry-on these can be either in the device or spare. As always, if they are spare make sure they are sensibly packed and won’t short circuit.
You can’t pack these larger lithium-ion batteries in your checked bags.
You cannot pack any spare lithium batteries in your checked luggage regardless of size.
Power packs or devices with internal batteries that have a capacity of greater than 300 watt hours are banned in both carry-on and checked luggage. And, of course, that applies to spare batteries over 300 wh as well.
💡 Note: To determine watt hours (Wh), multiply the volts (V) by the ampere hours (Ah). Example: A 12-volt battery rated to 8 Amp hours is rated at 96 watt hours (12 x 8 = 96).
Portable charger, battery packs or power banks are lithium-ion batteries. They are considered to be the same a spare batteries so you won’t be able to pack them in checked luggage. Make sure you check the capacity to see if you can pack them in hand luggage.
Dry Batteries That Are Disposable (Alkaline)
These are the types of regular batteries that you put in your TV remote and other gadgets. They are made by Duracell, Energizer and other brands.
You can bring AA, AAA, C, and D batteries in your carry-on luggage or in your checked luggage.
If they are in your walkman (google it kids) then you don’t need to do anything extra. If they are loose you need to make sure that you pack them safely so that they cannot be damaged or short-circuited.
Dry Rechargeable Batteries
The same rules apply for rechargeable batteries like Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) or Nickel Cadmium (NiCad). You can bring then in your carry on or checked luggage. If they are loose then pack them correctly so they can’t short circuit.
Lithium Metal Batteries
Lithium metal batteries are different from lithium-ion.
Lithium metal batteries are non-rechargeable. They can be found in watches and cameras and are often circular like coins.
Some extra long lasting lithium batteries are made in AA and AAA versions.
Lithium metal batteries are limited to 2 grams of lithium per battery and must go in carry-on luggage only if they are loose and spare.
Spare Batteries And The Risk Of Short Circuit & Fire
To demonstrate what all this fuss is about watch this video and see what happens when a lithium battery catches fire.
That’s why spare and loose batteries should always be packed well to avoid any impact damage if your suitcase is thrown around.
It’s also a good idea to put some tape over the terminals to stop any chance of the battery catching fire.
A spare lithium ion battery that is not installed in a device will not be permitted in checked luggage. The TSA will scan your suitcase and remove this if they discover it.
Batteries install in devices are allowed in checked luggage. It’s only spare batteries or power packs that are not allowed in checked luggage. The reason for this is that there is risk that a metal object such as a coin could connect the positive and negative ends of the battery causing a short. If this was to happen inside the hold luggage there is a risk that the battery could go on fire and in the hold luggage there is nobody around to extinguish a fire.
Batteries with a capacity larger than 300 watt hours are never allowed on airplanes.
Yes alkaline batteries are allowed in checked luggage. As always make sure they are well packed and can’t be damaged should your case be thrown around. Also, make sure they are not packed alongside metal objects that could cause a short circuit.
Battery packs are allowed in carry on luggage only. You cannot pack a power bank or power charger in checked luggage.
Lithium-ion batteries are a type of rechargeable battery. They can store large amounts of energy in a small form. This is great for powering your laptop for hours but on planes this means they are a fire risk. If anything goes wrong with a lithium-ion battery they can release a lot of energy.
You can take lithium-ion batteries on planes in your carry-on luggage. That way should there be any fire someone will be around to put it out.
You can take as many lithium batteries as you need in carry on luggage provided they are under 100 watt hours.
Lithium batteries have a higher energy density and this makes them a risk. They are allowed on planes in carry on luggage in smaller sizes.
Yes you can bring regular alkaline AA batteries on an airplane in either carry-on or checked bags. You can also bring rechargeable AA NiMH or NiCad batteries. The only AA battery that you can’t pack in checked luggage is a long life AA lithium metal battery.
Yes you can bring alkaline AAA batteries on planes in checked or hand luggage.
You can bring portable phone chargers or portable laptop chargers on planes but they must be packed in carry on luggage. If your power pack is under 100 wh you are good to go. If your power pack is between 101 and 300 wh you need to seek permission from your airline. If your power pack is over 300 wh you are unable to pack it anywhere.
Yes camera batteries are allowed on planes. Spare batteries should be packed in carry on. Cameras with batteries installed can be packed in checked luggage. However, a camera is exactly the type of thing that gets stolen from checked luggage so be sensible and pack it in your hand luggage.
Most batteries are permitted in carry on and checked luggage.
The big exception is spare (uninstalled) lithium metal and lithium-ion batteries which are only allowed in carry on bags.
Exceptionally large batteries might need airline permission. You’ll probably know if you have an extra large capacity battery.
Always protect all batteries when you pack them. If they are installed in the device that usually gives protection from damage or short circuit.
If they are spare and uninstalled you need to think a little more. A packing cube could be a good way make sure a spare battery is protected and isolated from any metal that could cause a connection between the positive and negative terminals.
Make sure that any battery-powered device is powered off and can’t be accidentally activated by items pressing against a power button.
That’s it. You are now an expert in flying with batteries, packing them, and taking them on airplanes.
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