Technological devices such as phones or tablets may be part of our everyday necessities, but traveling with them requires following certain rules—all thanks to their batteries. Knowing these safety measures can make the difference between a smooth flight and a stressful ordeal.
Take a look at the five things you need to know before flying with batteries or power banks.
Lithium Batteries Are Considered Dangerous Goods.
According to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), lithium batteries are dangerous goods requiring extra care and monitoring before a flight.
That means that even if they are everywhere—your phone, laptop, or camera—you cannot just freely bring them whenever you travel without proper safety measures.
The reason? They’re a potential fire hazard. When damaged, overheated, short-circuited, or impacted, lithium batteries can catch fire and thus pose a serious risk, particularly when packed carelessly or left unchecked during long flights.
Some Batteries are Forbidden On Flights.
Not all batteries are the same, and as such, they all pose different risks when on board. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the types of batteries you own before boarding your flight.
For example, there are two main types of lithium batteries: lithium metal and lithium-ion.
Lithium metal ones are non-rechargeable and are the ones you usually find on devices such as watches or calculators. On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable, and you can find them on laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
When it comes to lithium metal batteries, they cannot exceed 8g of lithium. On the other hand, lithium-ion ones have a limit of 160 Wh. You can check the packaging of your batteries to see if they comply with the regulations.
While these are general rules, your best bet would be to check your airline’s specific policies ahead of the flight.
There is a Limited Number of Devices and Spare Batteries You can Take with You.
This is another element that can vary according to airline policies and regulations. However, there is usually a limit on how many electronic devices you can bring with you on your flight and the number of spare batteries.
For example, let’s compare British Airways and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines policies to paint a picture of what you can expect.
Both airlines agree that you can bring up to 15 different Personal Electronic Devices that contain any lithium battery. However, KLM specifies that this only applies to devices up to 100 Wh, and any other value up to 160Wh requires permission. On the other hand, British Airways does not require approval for devices from 100Wh to 160Wh, as long as you limit them to a maximum of two devices per person.
When it comes to spare batteries, both companies differ wildly. British Airways allows up to four per person—including power banks—while KLM gives you room to bring over twenty, as long as they’re 100Wh or under.
Bottom line? Check your airline’s policies.
Most Spare Batteries Have To Be In Your Carry-On Bags.
It turns out you cannot carry your batteries or battery-powered devices wherever you go. In fact, you’ll usually be instructed to carry them exclusively in your hand baggage and not in your checked one, as per the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
The reason is that it’s much easier to monitor and control batteries in hand luggage. If, for example, something were to go wrong with damaged batteries while stored in the cargo compartment, it would spread much faster and without monitoring.
However, keep in mind that these restrictions apply to spare batteries. If they are in a device—for example, a laptop—you could store them in your checked-in luggage if you want, as long you switch it off.
You Need To Follow Safety Procedures.
Sadly, it is not as easy as simply picking up your batteries and sticking them in any convenient corner of your luggage. There is a proper way to store and manage your batteries, and you must follow it step-by-step. Failure to do so can spell trouble—logistical at best and fatal at worst.
According to EASA, each spare battery in your carry-on luggage must be stored individually and isolated to prevent short circuits. The best way is to insulate the terminals with tape and place each battery inside a plastic bag, keeping them apart. Once again, no spare batteries should ever be in the checked-in luggage.
Once on board, remember that while you can have spare batteries and power banks on your hand luggage, you must never recharge them inside the airplane. Likewise, you cannot use power banks to recharge any device either.
Remember To Do Your Research.
As mentioned, each airline is different, and not all batteries are the same. Doing your due diligence and understanding your flight, devices, and type of batteries can prepare you to know exactly what you should do to protect your tech during your travels.