Print 47 comment(s) - last by spluurfg.. on Jan 2 at 10:49 PM

The U.S. DOT advises that any spare batteries should be stored in a zip-lock bag or the factory packaging to prevent short-circuits.  (Source: U.S. Department of Transportation)
New rules limit lithium content in batteries carried on aircraft

New rules went into effect today that could affect travelers who carry portable electronics on flights. The new regulations limit the amount of lithium in luggage and carry-on items -- specifically with regards to lithium in batteries.

The new rules state that spare batteries cannot be packed inside checked luggage, but spare batteries can be carried on board in carry-on baggage. Those brave enough to check baggage with electronic devices inside can leave installed batteries in the devices.

The U.S. Department of Transportation does not specify how many batteries are acceptable for travel.  The Department states passengers can carry spare batteries for electronic devices and that the lithium content in all batteries must weigh less than 25 grams.

To help explain the strange equivalent lithium content rule, uses an example dividing the total amount of lithium as Watt-hours. The DOT claims lithium grams is roughly equivalent to 300 Watt-hours of battery time.

The popular Dell XPS m1330 notebook uses several different batteries. The 9-cell batteries, the largest available for the system, are rated at 85 Watt-hours. That would mean a pair of spare batteries for the notebook (170 Watt-hours) are well within the 25 gram (300 Watt-hours) total aggregate lithium content.   However, a passenger can only care the installed 9-cell battery with two spares before exceeding the 25g limit.

Devices that use lithium-metal batteries have a limit of two grams of lithium-metal per battery and according to almost all lithium-metal batteries used in consumer devices comply with that limit. However, devices with lithium metal-batteries over the two gram limit are barred from the aircraft entirely.

These new rules are due to the potential fire hazard posed by rechargeable lithium batteries. The massive recalls and wide spread reports of fires resulting from laptop batteries resulting in the massive battery recalls of 2007 sparked the new battery policies now in effect.

However, the FAA is very clear on why such strict limits must be imposed.  In a statement released yesterday, the Administration stated, "Safety testing conducted by the FAA found that current aircraft cargo fire suppression system would not be capable of suppressing a fire if a shipment of non-rechargeable lithium batteries were ignited in flight."

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By nothingtoseehere on 1/1/2008 1:39:31 PM , Rating: 3
The web site is pretty clear that the limit for LiIon batteries only applies for batteries with over 8 grams of Li, so your 85WH batteries that are each below 8 grams are not limited to two, see this quote:

"# You can also bring up to two spare batteries with an aggregate equivalent lithium content of up to 25 grams, in addition to any batteries that fall below the 8-gram threshold."

My main worry would be is not what the rules say, but how they are going to be misintepreted, not by bloggers, but by TSA people in the airports...

Will people have any recourse if they are?

By Inkjammer on 1/1/2008 2:17:22 PM , Rating: 4
My main worry would be is not what the rules say, but how they are going to be misintepreted, not by bloggers, but by TSA people in the airports...
I was just about to post that. The TSA, while having a hard job, seem to be a little too aggressive at times.

I'm a world traveler, and have had more problems with the TSA than I care to recount. My question is how they plan to measure the amount of grams in the batteries and enforce it. I don't put a lot of trust in the TSA's math skills. They can barely handle my belongings with care, what makes me think they can respect my expensive electronics?

My Alienware m9750's battery is big, black and doesn't have any visible information on the battery. Not on the top, not on the bottom. So unless they're going to weigh the batteries, I don't see where they're going to get their data from to gauge if the battery is valid. If they were to decide my battery violates the code, what happens to my battery? Do I just lose a $150 laptop battery? Do they mail it to me? Do I just get one of those evil TSA pamphlets that says, in a manner of speaking, "We're the TSA. Sorry for damaging your items beyond repair. We can not be held accountable, as we did it for the security of the nation. Thank you for understanding and complying. Love, your friends at the TSA".

If you've gotten one of those fliers you know exactly what I mean. I've had belongings damaged by the TSA worse than if I took the item out and curb stomped it. I don't want them on my laptop. At all.

By RMSistight on 1/1/2008 4:15:41 PM , Rating: 2
What you guys should do is carry printouts of battery specifications or anything else that you carry. I fly pretty frequently for short track speedskating meets and I bring the following with me:

Dell m1330 laptop (Li-Ion)
2 x 9 cell battery (85 wh x 2)
1 x 6 cell battery (56 wh)

Sony HDR-HC7 camcorder
3 x NP-FH70 Li-Ion batteries (12.2 wh x 3)
1 x NP-FH50 Li-Ion batteries (6.1 wh)

+Misc cell phone battery

I have all detailed printouts for all my laptop and camcorders batteries indicating their battery type and how many watt/hour they use. Hell, you can even do the math for them to have it written down on a piece of paper...haha.

By Mk4ever on 1/2/2008 12:22:48 AM , Rating: 2
Not the best idea, nor a bright constructive solution to the problem, but I seriously suggest you print some info from any other battery and stick it on your battery to look like other original stickers. Save yourself endless arguments with stubborn employees and save your batteries.

By Manch on 1/1/2008 11:08:33 PM , Rating: 2
I personally don't have a lot of faith in TSA. They are ill-trained, rude, and I believe ultimately ineffective. Well, I take that last part back they are pretty effective at pissing you off before you get on a 12-14 hour cattle car err plane trip.

I have an external battery for my laptop which is awesome for flights from Tokyo to Atlanta. The last two times coming back from Atlanta I got held up over my spare battery. I even kept the paper from the manufacturer that came with the battery saying it was approved by the FAA for use on an aircraft and they still gave me crap about it!

Now that I'm stateside again I drive rather than fly. I can stop when I want. Eat when I want. Smoke when I want. To top it off with the 90min+ show time just to get on the often delayed flight the total trip hours usually equal the driving time. I absolutely refuse to fly if I dont have to it's just not worth the hassle.

As far as recourse goes, hope they have enough time to mail it off or they're willing sacrifice the battery or the ticket. I had to mail a brand new zippo that was sealed in the box no fluid in it what so ever because it wasn't allowed on the plane. Thats just ridiculous. "Conveniently" they had a zippo mailing service just out side the gate.

you're right to worry. What the rules are and what they enforce seems to always be in contradiction.

Yeah not worth it.

By marvdmartian on 1/2/2008 10:07:48 AM , Rating: 2
I laughed when I read your TSA comments. Yeah, people forget that (for the most part) the TSA employees are the same people (morons) that were private security employees before 911. And look how effective they were back then!

I loved the title to this article too:
Complicated, but Not Brain Surgery

That's a good thing, since it's pretty evident that, with TSA, we're not dealing with anyone approaching the level of a brain surgeon, are we??

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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