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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RE: Anyone find this stupid?
By Lifted on 1/1/2008 2:40:24 PM , Rating: 2
Long international flights usually have power outlets available for all or many of the seats.

RE: Anyone find this stupid?
By BikeDude on 1/1/2008 6:02:26 PM , Rating: 2

...but perhaps you implied business class?

RE: Anyone find this stupid?
By Lifted on 1/1/2008 7:00:50 PM , Rating: 2
I clearly over estimated the amount of airlines that had this policy as I aparently always fly airlines that have the option. I usually fly premium economy or business on long hauls anyway so it's never really an issue, but I always notice that it's either available to all economy seats or shared between a few on the flights I take. The option is available to you if you care that much about it, just choose an airline that offers it in economy, like American, Continental, etc. You're obviously going to get squat with airlines like United and the like.

RE: Anyone find this stupid?
By Alexstarfire on 1/1/2008 6:17:00 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure about you, but I know for a fact that when I flew from Atlanta to Taiwan that we had NO power outlets. Business or First Class might, but I can't afford that.

RE: Anyone find this stupid?
By spluurfg on 1/2/2008 10:49:48 PM , Rating: 2
Whether you have power sockets depends mostly on how old the plane is. Newer planes generally seem to have sockets on long-haul flights even in economy. Unfortunately it's pretty random whether the plane you end up on is old or new. I've even been on flights where there were power sockets on some, but not all of the economy seats, and short-haul domestirc economy flights that had more legroom and better entertainment systems than the connecting international flight. It's not very consistent.

As for batteries, it does make sense... for primary lithium batteries (non-rechargables), transporting them in bulk is strictly banned on planes, due to a few incidents where they caught fire in the holds of cargo planes. The fire suppression systems on board simply couldn't cope with them, since primary lithium battery fires are particularly nasty. Simple precautions like taping the contacts of batteries and keeping batteries in carry on baggage where possible makes a lot of sense -- if it's in the passenger compartment, at least you should notice a fire pretty quickly. Besides, the new rules only seem to affect those who are carrying quite a lot of spare batteries around.

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