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Our article provides an explanation and description of the types of batteries you can carry on board or in your checked luggage while flying commercial airlines in the United States.

 

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Traveling with Batteries

As of January 1, 2008 the  U.S. Department of Transportation  issued several rules related to traveling safely with batteries and battery powered devices.  Since few of us fly without several battery powered devices, we thought it was timely to discuss the restrictions and how to be in compliance with these rules when traveling by air. 

Q. What kinds of batteries are allowed in carry-on baggage (in the aircraft cabin)?

Most batteries cannot be carried in checked luggageA. Passengers can carry most consumer batteries and personal battery-powered devices. Spare batteries must be protected from damage and short circuit. Battery-powered devices should be protected from accidental activation. Batteries allowed in carry-on baggage include:

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). Rechargeable lithium ion batteries have some additional restrictions, explained below.

 

 

Passengers may carry 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.

Passengers can also bring two (2) 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.

Q. What kinds of batteries are allowed in checked baggage?

A. Except for spare (uninstalled) lithium batteries, all the batteries allowed in carry-on baggage are also allowed in checked baggage. The batteries must be protected from damage and short circuit or installed in a device. Battery-powered devices—particularly those with moving parts or those that could heat up—should be protected from accidental activation. Spare lithium batteries (both lithium metal and lithium ion/polymer) are prohibited in checked baggage.

Q. Is there a limit to the number of batteries I can carry?

A. There is no limit to the number of consumer-size batteries or battery-powered devices that a passenger can carry. Only the larger lithium ion batteries are limited to two (2) batteries per passenger; see “Lithium ion batteries” explanation above.

 

Q. What does “protected from short circuit” mean?

Use electic tape on the terminals of the battery to prevent contact with metalA. Protected from short circuit means that a battery’s terminals are protected from being touched by metal. When metal such as keys, coins, or other batteries come in contact with both terminals of a battery, it can create a “circuit” or path for electricity to flow through. This can cause extreme heat and sparks and even start a fire. To prevent short circuits, keep spare batteries in their original packaging, a battery case, a separate pouch or sealable plastic bag. Make sure loose batteries can’t move around. Placing tape over the terminals of unpackaged batteries also helps to insulate them from short circuit. Remember to place only one battery in each bag.

 

A visual guide to traveling with the "Lithium" category of batteries is provided below.

(Note:  The images in this article were provided courtesy of the United States Department of Transportation. In addition, the information provided here was originally published by the Department of Transportation at their SafeTravel.dot,gov website, which should be referred to for the possiblity of updated information.

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