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PRBA Urges Holiday Flyers to Heed Battery Safety Rules

Washington (December 14, 2017) – PRBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association today released its annual holiday safety guide for airline passengers traveling with lithium batteries and battery-powered electronic devices.

“Safety remains PRBA’s No. 1 priority. With air travel surging over the 21-day holiday season, PRBA reminds airline passengers to scrupulously follow U.S. Department of Transportation regulations for lithium batteries and battery-powered devices in checked baggage and carry-ons,” said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner.

In 2017, U.S. agencies, international regulators, trade associations and airlines all addressed the safety and security of the air transport of batteries on passenger aircraft. Passengers may be confused which safety requirements take effect this holiday season.

DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides detailed information with helpful charts for airline passengers traveling with batteries. Please click here.

Airline passengers should be aware that some of the more highly publicized battery safety issues in 2017 have neither been finalized nor will be in effect over the holidays.

  • The FAA has recommended that if battery-powered devices are packed in checked luggage, they should be completely turned off, protected from accidental activation and securely packed to ensure against damage. Most personal electronic devices, including laptops, cameras, cell phones and electronic games, are still permitted in both carry-on and checked baggage.
  • Several airlines recently announced a ban on “smart” luggage with nonremovable lithium ion batteries and restrictions on those with removable batteries. The ban and restrictions do not begin until January 15, 2018.

Airlines for America, an industry trade group, has projected 51 million passengers will fly globally on U.S. airlines during the holiday period from December 15 through January 4, a 3.5 percent increase from 2016.

Below is a summary of FAA lithium battery regulations applicable to airline passengers.

Prohibited in checked baggage and carry-ons

  • Damaged or recalled batteries
  • Samsung Note 7 smartphone
  • Hoverboard (Banned by most airlines)

Prohibited in checked baggage

  • Spare lithium ion and lithium metal batteries
  • Some medical devices
  • Battery-powered portable smoking devices, including e-cigarettes and vaporizers

Permitted in checked baggage and carry-ons

  • Virtually every consumer electronic product powered by lithium ion or lithium metal batteries, but the devices must be protected from accidental activation, damage and short-circuit
  • Dry cell batteries such as nickel metal hydride, nickel cadmium, and alkaline batteries

Permitted in carry-ons

  • Spare lithium ion batteries with a Watt-hour rating of no more than 100 watt hours
  • Spare lithium metal batteries, typically used in cameras and flashlights, containing no more than 2 grams of lithium content
  • No more than two spare larger-sized lithium ion batteries up to 160 watt hours but only with airline approval.
  • E-cigarettes, but no vaping or charging is allowed.

Airline passengers can also improve the safety of themselves and their fellow passengers by following the safety precautions listed below:

  • Keep spare batteries in their original packaging, a battery case, a separate pouch/pocket/baggie or tape over the electrical connections.
  • Prevent loose batteries from moving around or coming in contact with metal objects such as coins.
  • Charge only rechargeable batteries.
  • Every battery comes with a compatible charger. Don’t mix and match. Use only the charger designed for the specific battery.
  • If you must carry a battery-powered device in any baggage, package it to prevent inadvertent activation.
  • Take steps to prevent crushing or puncturing of batteries by keeping your batteries and battery-powered devices in your carry-on bag when not using them