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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 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??

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