Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Travel Tips Tuesday: Safely Packing Batteries for Your Trip

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! 

TSA Blog Team


Anonymous said...

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.


Anonymous said...


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

Laura Monteros said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should do a post about breast prosthesis.


Absolutely disgusting behavior by the TSA.

Will the Blog Team be silent on this issue?

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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 said...

"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."

Anonymous said...


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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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. For passengers with mobility issues, more information is available at http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/mobility-impairments. If you have additional questions or concerns, you can contact TSA's disability screening staff at 1-855-787-2227 or ContactCenter@dhs.gov.

Anonymous said...

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.

Cheryl Martinez said...

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.

Anonymous said...

"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.

Anonymous said...

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).

MBurgess said...

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.

MBurgess said...

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.

Ernest Iremiren said...

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

Automated Machines said...

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

Michael Gatty said...

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?

Floris Bakker said...

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.

Ryan Gow said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

Zach said...

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?

Zach said...

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?

Anonymous said...

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?

Anonymous said...

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?

Anonymous said...

I was asking the same question... Confusing!

Marilyn Phalen said...

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

Anonymous said...

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?


Greg D. said...

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

lunakilla713 said...

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

Unknown said...

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?

Anonymous said...

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?