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Flying with Li Ion Batteries

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I have checked the AA Web site but would like some back up clarification.  To be safe and not have any check luggage held back I should just carry all lithium ion batteries in my carry on?

 

Thanks,

Jamie

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To the best of my knowledge, the regulations are:

  • Li-ion batteries must be carried in the carry-on. The idea is, if one catches fire, it can be noticed and dealt with in the cabin, as opposed to the cargo hold.
  • The batteries must be protected from shorting out. If you're flying with loose 18650/26650 cells, get plastic boxes to hold them.
  • Maximum capacity battery pack allowed on board ins 99 watt-hours. This presents a problem with some of the larger video lights that come with humongous battery packs. Loose cells or multiple packs exceeding 99Wh in total are not a problem.

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Ok, will tape over all contacts.  I am more worried about the number of batteries.  My wife shoots video with 2 GoPro's and two Fix Neo 3000's Video lights all of which go in checked luggage.  However, she will carry on all her batteries, 8 GoPro batteries and 6 video light batteries.

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Last trip, I was carrying 24x18650 for lights, 16xAA for strobes, a spare battery for the camera and a powerbank containing 6x18650, all in my carryon. Eight flights in total, no issues.

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Great, that makes me feel better.  Thanks so much for your time.

 

Jamie

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The limit for batteries contained in equipment and packed with equipment is 5 kg per passenger with maximum two spares in addition to what is in the equipment

So if you have a video light with a battery you can take two spares no more

If you have a camera with a battery inside you can also only take two spares

The total of your batteries in and out equipment is 5 Kg

AA batteries for strobes and NiMh do not count and can go in check in 

In theory for your gopro you can only take two spares each and two inside so total 2x3=6 and 6 video lights

In practical terms I have never seen this stuff put on a scale or a count of batteries but those are the rules

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16 hours ago, Interceptor121 said:

The limit for batteries contained in equipment and packed with equipment is 5 kg per passenger with maximum two spares in addition to what is in the equipment

So if you have a video light with a battery you can take two spares no more

If you have a camera with a battery inside you can also only take two spares

The total of your batteries in and out equipment is 5 Kg

AA batteries for strobes and NiMh do not count and can go in check in 

In theory for your gopro you can only take two spares each and two inside so total 2x3=6 and 6 video lights

In practical terms I have never seen this stuff put on a scale or a count of batteries but those are the rules

So, are you suggesting we have to carry on the GoPro's and lights as well.  She only wants to carry on the batteries so we don't have to carry it around the airport.  I know none of it is that heavy, but still a pain.

 

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So, are you suggesting we have to carry on the GoPro's and lights as well.  She only wants to carry on the batteries so we don't have to carry it around the airport.  I know none of it is that heavy, but still a pain.
 

If you dont carry the camera or light technically you cant carry any spares on their own and clearly no packing in checked luggage of any li ion in any way


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I don’t believe this is correct, at least not universally so. I regularly hand carry a couple dozen lithium batteries (AA and camera) around Asia and across to Canada and the US, with the equipment in checked baggage.  Never a problem. 
 

I’m sure the airline web site will have the rules for flights, if you can find them. 

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I don’t believe this is correct, at least not universally so. I regularly hand carry a couple dozen lithium batteries (AA and camera) around Asia and across to Canada and the US, with the equipment in checked baggage.  Never a problem. 
 
I’m sure the airline web site will have the rules for flights, if you can find them. 


I posted already somewhere else here

https://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/dgr/Documents/lithium-battery-shipping-guidelines.pdf

For non cargo you need to follow the rules for batteries packed with or in equipment you can’t carry batteries without equipment that only applies to cargos
LiIon is forbidden in any airlines on regular non cargo shipments



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That IATA doc seems to be regarding shipping of batteries or devices with batteries - not transport with a passenger for personal use...?  (I only skimmed it)

I believe (though I can't find the exact ref right now) that the quantity limits for 'spares' was always targeted at the mid-sized batteries (100 - 160 Wh) which is far above most typical dive photo gear.  I dug into this a while ago and was coming to the same conclusions you did but then I found something that made it clear the limits were not applicable to single batteries and small packs in the quantities most use.  Wish I could find the link but that would explain why so many people are not having issues (I've also not been asked to justify or do math on batteries despite any reasonable person looking at my luggage thinking 'he has a lot of batteries').

For comparison an 18650 is about 5Wh and Nikon camera battery is about 15Wh.  The 100-160Wh classification is per battery.  For pro-level video gear 15 years ago this was all very relevant - for modern DSLR and action cams not so much outside of the very biggest continuous video lights.  When I did to the math on all my stuff before purchasing I found I was very far below any limits.

Looking at TSA; CATSA and UK CAA sites seems to show no overall quantity limits for single cells and/or small packs:

https://www.catsa-acsta.gc.ca/en/guidelines-batteries

https://www.tsa.gov/blog/2013/06/11/travel-tips-tuesday-safely-packing-batteries-your-trip

https://www.caa.co.uk/Passengers/Before-you-fly/Baggage/Items-that-are-allowed-in-baggage/

I'd think at least one of those sites would be more specific if the quantity limits were a big thing or if spares needed to be associated with particular devices?

Anyways, I think there might be a loophole here that makes this fairly simple for most of us....

 

 

Edited by mwalker_mw

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That IATA doc seems to be regarding shipping of batteries or devices with batteries - not transport with a passenger for personal use...?  (I only skimmed it)
I believe (though I can't find the exact ref right now) that the quantity limits for 'spares' was always targeted at the mid-sized batteries (100 - 160 Wh) which is far above most typical dive photo gear.  I dug into this a while ago and was coming to the same conclusions you did but then I found something that made it clear the limits were not applicable to single batteries and small packs in the quantities most use.  Wish I could find the link but that would explain why so many people are not having issues (I've also not been asked to justify or do math on batteries despite any reasonable person looking at my luggage thinking 'he has a lot of batteries').
For comparison an 18650 is about 5Wh and Nikon camera battery is about 15Wh.  The 100-160Wh classification is per battery.  For pro-level video gear 15 years ago this was all very relevant - for modern DSLR and action cams not so much outside of the very biggest continuous video lights.  When I did to the math on all my stuff before purchasing I found I was very far below any limits.
Looking at TSA; CATSA and UK CAA sites seems to show no overall quantity limits for single cells and/or small packs:
https://www.catsa-acsta.gc.ca/en/guidelines-batteries
https://www.tsa.gov/blog/2013/06/11/travel-tips-tuesday-safely-packing-batteries-your-trip
https://www.caa.co.uk/Passengers/Before-you-fly/Baggage/Items-that-are-allowed-in-baggage/
I'd think at least one of those sites would be more specific if the quantity limits were a big thing or if spares needed to be associated with particular devices?
Anyways, I think there might be a loophole here that makes this fairly simple for most of us....
 
 


No you need to read it carefully
Page 4

Prohibitions
Lithium ion batteries
All lithium ion cells and batteries shipped by themselves (UN 3480) are forbidden for transport as cargo on passenger aircraft. All packages prepared in accordance with Packing Instruction 965, Section IA, IB and II, must bear a Cargo Aircraft Only label, in addition to existing marks and/or labels.

Packing instructions


 M. Under Packing Instructions 966 and 969, it states that “The maximum number of batteries in each package must be the minimum number required to power the equipment, plus two spare sets. A “set” of cells or batteries is the number of individual cells or batteries that are required to power each piece of equipment”. If a package contains 4 power tools (each tool contains 1 lithium ion battery), can 2 extra lithium ion batteries be placed in the package for each piece of equipment for a total of 12 batteries?
Yes, providing you do not exceed the maximum net quantity for the relevant section of the packing instruction and the chosen aircraft type. The 12 batteries reflect two spare sets (8) for each of the 4 power tools in the outer package plus one each to power the device (4).

So it is pretty clear that
1. You can only have two spare sets including whats in the equipment
2. The weight limit is 5 kg

NiMh batteries for strobes can be put in cargo and are not subject to these restrictions

In practical terms nobody is going to weight the batteries as in most cases airlines have a weight limit on hand luggage
But is very easy to count the batteries I also do not see any reason to carry more than 3 sets for each individual item



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Thanks for everyone's input.  Flying to Bonaire Wednesday and given all the info I think we will be fine.

 

Thanks again,

Jamie

 

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1 hour ago, Interceptor121 said:

No you need to read it carefully
Page 4

 

The subtlety I believe being missed here is the difference between cargo transported on a passenger jet and checked baggage in the cargo hold of a passenger jet.  Possibly the very same jet.  So far as I can tell they are regulated completely differently.

The document you are referencing appears to be targeted at the Amazons of the world shipping original boxed products, not Joe Vacationer and his luggage.  Now, if you were to ship your gear ahead air-freight they probably would be applicable.   

My research into this was several years ago so i don't recall all the details, but the argument that convinced me I would have no issues with typical underwater photo gear was along these lines.  There's a number of people reporting their real-world experiences more aligned with that understanding so I don't think I was completely off track.

Can you point me toward anything in the doc that talks about passenger baggage?  The entire tone of it seems geared towards businesses shipping things.... 

Edited by mwalker_mw

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The rules are the same you can’t put stuff in the hold is clearly printed on any passenger aircraft conditions of carriage they will not risk a fire because you are a diver so take them in the cabin is the rule

Once you are in the cabin you then follow the limitations of packing specifications

Everybody knows it including manufacturers in fact when I did a trip with keldan owned equipment we discussed taking one or two spares that was the maximum and at the end I decided for one set of spares as they would charge quick enough for the next dive

 

 

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I stand corrected I found an updated clarification by IATA that is actually quite surprising

 

https://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/dgr/Documents/passenger-lithium-battery.pdf

While it says that you cannot carry spare batteries in checked in luggage under any circumstance but also includes the maximum limit for carry on

For batteries in equipment the limit is 15 pieces of equipment (with the battery installed) so say you have a camera, mobile phone, computer, two video lights, and a portable battery pack for your phone: total 6 devices

You can then take max 20 spares so in the case above you could take 6 camera batteries and 7 spare batteries per video light each and still be fine.

More interestingly you can take your device in checked luggage, now you won't probably want to take a laptop or camera however for what concerns the video lights you could put them in checked luggage.

Now the issue that you have is if you have the video lights checked in with no spares and the spares with you how do you demonstrate what are they the spare for? I was recently stopped during a trip and specifically they checked if the spares were matching the batteries

So in practical use you need to take both the device and the spare with you and you can take total of 15 devices with battery in place plus 20 spare overall which seems plenty

The limit of two spares is for >100 Wh packs

 

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That looks like the info I eventually stumbled on - I had the same understanding you did until finding it. 

Will save the doc this time and give it a good read at a later date. 

Thanks.  

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I do wonder how many frontline security checking people are aware of the IATA guidelines..... and how much, at times, it comes down to negotiating politely.

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Agree with Tim - best to carry a copy of the rules you think apply, if you need to negotiate at the airport.

Remember that individual airlines can have stricter rules. I traveled on an airline that only allowed two batteries per device - one installed, one spare. But they only asked at check-in, didn't actually inspect anything.

I once got pulled out by a terminal announcement and taken to the bowels of the airport to remove 4 x AA eneloops in one plastic case from my checked baggage. This was for a domestic flight out of Melbourne. It's a good thing they pointed out the AAs on the xray of the baggage, otherwise I would have dug out the small lithium battery I had also checked in that bag without really thinking about it. All the other times I've checked AAs in plastic cases with no problems. The rules are so inconsistently applied.

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IATA regulations apply to all carriers except some exotic ones

I think this new version of the regulations is actually very easy to check and implement as it is based on physical count of the devices that anybody can do.

NiMh batteries are not a problem and go in check in no point taking them in hand luggage really

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I'm sure the IATA regulations do apply to all carriers. The issue I've always found is the management of regulations. I wouldn't bank on most of the people we have contact with in the airline/travel world having much more than hazy understanding of them.  

Liz (errbrr) makes good point about carrying a copy with you. Even then, there are lots of countries where I would not want to pull my copy of the regulations out of my pocket and say, "look here my good man/woman, IATA says....". You can almost hear the snap of the rubber glove.

 

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What Tim says, exactly 

I would not carry IATA refs but I would carry whatever the airline says on its own website. People at the counter might say IATA doesn’t matter (it does) but it’s harder to argue with their own rules. 

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IATA is the minimum standard. Airlines can impose additional baggage rules.

Check out this summary from Virgin Australia: https://www.virginaustralia.com/eu/en/plan/baggage/batteries/

Note the last line of the table that says NiMH batteries as spares (not in equipment) may not be checked in. Also limited to 20. I usually travel with 48 spare AA eneloops (6 strobes x 4 batteries x 2 sets) and tbh usually check them in without issue. But according to the airline this is not allowed and they can choose to enforce whatever additional requirements they feel like. Or whatever interpretation the check in person has, which may be quite different from the security person's interpretation.

In short, check and print the airline page! If asked, smile and produce said page while being non-confrontational about it.

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