Everyones’ favorite federal agency, the TSA, has yet another new FAA rule to enforce. Effective as of January 1, 2008, lithium batteries are NO LONGER ALLOWED IN CHECKED BAGGAGE. They must be transported in carry-on baggage. The new rules also place limits on how many lithium batteries you’re allowed to carry on, but they revolve around the total number of grams of lithium that each battery contains.
These new rules obviously affect photographers who travel, since almost all cameras today are powered by rechargable lithium batteries. I’ve reprinted a question and answer form below that was taken directly from the TSA website. It explains the new rules in readable English and should clear up any questions.
Q. What kinds of batteries are allowed in carry-on baggage (in the aircraft cabin)?
A. 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). For rechargeable lithium ion batteries; see next sentence.
• Lithium ion batteries (a.k.a.: rechargeable lithium, lithium polymer, LIPO, secondary lithium).
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.
o 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?
A. 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, or separate pouch or pocket. Make sure
loose batteries can’t move around. Placing tape over the terminals of unpackaged batteries also
helps to insulate them from short circuit.
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Happy flying, and don’t forget to drink all your liquids before going through security!