TSA Battery Restrictions – Flying with Lithium Ion


Hi this is Jay P. Morgan. I’m heading off another great adventure here
on The Slanted lens. But the issue that always comes up is traveling
with batteries. Lithium-ion batteries especially. So we’re gonna talk about the things you can
and can’t do when you’re traveling with lithium-ion batteries, what you can take with you, how
you can protect them and the process you need to do to be able to solve things for TSA. Let’s get started and see what we can do. But seriously, let’s talk about batteries
and flying with them on the airplane. Our segment today is sponsored by Indipro,
a great maker of really high powered batteries for the photo and video industry. We’ll talk more about them as we go through
our segment today, but our issue is what batteries can you fly with. You can still fly with all of your normal
triple A, double A, CD, it doesn’t matter. TSA does like you to have these in their original
containers and not just loose in a bag because they’re afraid of them shorting out with one
another. But you can carry as many of these as you
want in your carry-on, as many of these as you want in your luggage. No restriction on these whatsoever. Really the issue becomes lithium-ion batteries. Since the Galaxy explosion, everyone’s super
concerned about lithium-ion. The reason is is inside of a battery, and
this is an Indipro 170 watt battery, Inside of the battery there are two compartments
or chambers, between them is a thin piece of plastic. If that thin piece of plastic gets breached
they start a chemical reaction in them and they will explode. It’s extremely rare. Consumer reports say about one in a million
of these will fail, whereas one in 13,000 is the likelihood that you’ll be struck by
lightning. But that doesn’t change the fact that we’ve
had Galaxies that have exploded and had problems and so now lithium-ion are under really close
scrutiny. When you’re traveling with lithium-ion batteries,
in my mind they fall in like three categories: one, what you can carry on to the airplane,
two, what you can check in your baggage in the airplane, and three, batteries who are
already in components and laptops and pieces of equipment. Let’s talk about each of those. First off let’s start with those who are in
components. This is a Baja strobe head. This Baja strobe head has a lithium-ion battery
in it. That lithium-ion battery is in the Baja strobe
head. I put these in check-in luggage all the time. I have a big bag of [inaudible 00:02:21] Bajas,
it’s like four or six heads, they go on the airplane, there’s no issue whatsoever. The reason there’s not an issue with batteries
installed in equipment, is because most all equipment including laptops with large extended
life batteries, the batteries are under 100 watts.That is the secret number. One hundred watts or less makes it an issue
that TSA is not concerned about. This really includes all the camera batteries
that you’re used to, all of your batteries for any still cameras. Even most your motion picture cameras that
can’t contain a small battery like this, they are under 100 watts. This is a camera battery to the Canon C200,
it’s 45 watts. Even the extended life battery is under 100
watts. So those in a device, nothing to worry about. Installed in the device goes in the airplane,
under the airplane, on top of the airplane, wherever you wanna put it in the airplane,
that’s good. Number two now though is, I have my Baja and
I want to bring spare batteries for my Baja. Now this is under 100 watts, but I can’t check
this, it’s gotta go into my personal bag. And the reason is you just can’t have these
down in the compartment because they’re afraid about them shorting or touching or doing something
will cause them to explode. I do the same thing with all the batteries,
even though it’s absolutely no problem to travel with the small batteries that run your
cameras is from a C200, you know, it’s 45 watts. But even though you can you just can’t check
these, you have to carry them with you. I always carry my cameras with me as my carry-on
when I get on the airplane, so I have a bag that has my cameras in it and I’ve got a bag
that has, if I’m traveling this way, batteries in it. And it depends on how many of these I’m traveling
with. If I’m just taking my cameras then all my
batteries will go in with my cameras, or if only have one or two of these extra 100 watt
batteries, I’ll put this in my camera case as well. But if I’ve got a huge shoot and I need a
ton of batteries then I’ll carry a case that has batteries in it. Now remember these can only be 100 watts or
less, and you can carry as many of them as you want onto the airplane without any problem. That’s why these batteries are so nice. If you’re using higher-end video equipment,
these 98 watt batteries can be carried on to the airplane, you can bring on as many
of them as you want, you just…I mean as long as your weight doesn’t get too…can’t
bring 500 pounds of these on to the airplane. As long as it’s for personal use and for production,
you carry as many of these as you want. You can have 8 or 10 of them in a case, and
you can take these 98 watt ones. If they get over 98 watts, we now go to the
third category. And that is batteries bigger than 100 watts. And TSA says you may carry two batteries over
100 watts but not to exceed 160 watts. And they give you permission to carry two
of those with you to carry on the airplane. You may not check them, they have to be in
your personal carry-on and you may carry two of them. A battery like this that’s 170 it’s just a
little bit too big. Battery like this that is 270, just a little
too big. I love these 270 batteries, actually. When you’re running lights, the LED lights,
these see you’ll run a light all day long, that’s why I use them, that’s why I love them,
but I can’t fly with them. We do have a document online from Indipro
that shows that this battery is approved for TSA to be able to fly with it. Take that document with you, print it out,
carry it with you, and when they ask your TSA, you got a whole box of like ten of these
or five of these or three of these and they look at them and they go, “Wait a minute,
you can’t fly with all these lithium-ion batteries.” You show them the documentation from Indipro
saying these batteries are…meet all the criteria, they are not exceeding 100 watts,
they’re allowed to go on a carry-on. And they will allow you to carry these things
on. Anytime you can throw paperwork at TSA, it
shows that you’ve thought this through, you didn’t just make a random decision, and you
have…these batteries meet their criteria, and they do. Now when you take these on the airplane you
can’t just take them onto the airplane because that’s gonna make TSA very, very uncomfortable. How do you prepare your batteries to go on
the airplane? Even if they are these 98 watt batteries,
they have contacts. The contacts make TSA nervous, like well this
can…a piece of metal can touch this, it can cause something to short or have a problem. There’s three ways you can package these to
carry them with you on the airplane. Number one, put them in their original box. It says 98 watts on it, it declares exactly
what it is, and because it’s in that cardboard box no one is gonna be bothered, it’s not
gonna have anything touch the terminals, it’s not gonna be a problem. That’s the first and easiest one, put it back
in its original packaging. If you don’t have that, then number two is
very simple, you simply take a piece of electrical tape. That creates a protection. Now if the TSA person says, “Well, aren’t
these terminals?” No, those are not terminals, those are just
the hanging device that allows the gold mount to go on to its different devices you use
it on. The terminals are recessed right in here and
that’s completely covered and protected now. And number three is a Ziploc bag. Put them in a Ziploc bag, that gives you protection,
TSA is gonna feel like you’ve thought about it, and they’re not gonna bother you if you
put them in a Ziploc bag. Same with these, a little bit of tape. It’s just a precautionary measure, they may
not call you out on it, they may not say anything, but it’s possible they will. The more of these you carry, the more likely
they are going to say something about it. Small batteries like for your cameras, you
throw those into the camera bag, they’re not gonna say anything. These kinds of batteries they are not going
to give you an issue. But if you’re concerned, a little tape over
the terminals and these are ready to fly. There you have it, there’s the three ways
to protect your batteries when you’re gonna put them on the airplane, just so that you
can get through TSA quickly and not have an issue. Just a little call out here for Indipro, that’s
the sponsor for our segment today. We know how to fly with our batteries now. The reason I love these batteries, there’s
several things. First off they’ve got a great D-Tap on here
if you want to take power off from their gold mount batteries. I use gold mount because I just like the mount. I like the way it sets, but they do V-mount
as well as gold mount. And also I love the fact that all these batteries
have a USB port, so you can charge your phone off from this thing. For a long time you can charge your phone
off from this battery. I love these because I use them on LEDs, I
use them on cine cameras, I even use them, and probably one of my favorite things, because
the A7R2 has such a terrible battery in it, there’s a battery plate that they make, Indipro
makes. This battery plate goes on the back of your
rig, it goes into the battery compartment, and now I can just simply put my gold mount
battery right there, sits on my tripod, and I’ve got a ton of battery life to be able
to run the the A7R2. It will run this thing all day long which
is so nice. I mean in this camera especially because the
battery is so bad, you really need that setup and that’s a simple little inexpensive setup. Indipro also makes a D-Tap charger for these,
which is really a nice setup, it’s a small compact charger if you’re gonna travel. This just simply plugs into the D-Tap on the
battery and plug it in the wall, charge away. That’s a really nice little item to travel
with rather than having to carry those great big double battery chargers. I think this is a much simpler system. They got a great LED indicator here on the
side so you can see what kind of power’s left in your battery, which is really nice. They have a great construction so they actually
can be dropped and they’re not going to disintegrate on you, which is a good thing I have on set
because that seems to happen all the time. If on the back of your battery it doesn’t
have the watts, it’ll have the volts and the amps. Volts times amps equals watts, that’s an easy
way to figure out what the wattage of your battery is. Here at The Slanted Lens we’re really big
on business, so get over to the theslantederlens.com and buy our business downloads. It’s sixteen segments that will help you shape
your business, plus it comes with a group call in once a month with me where you can
ask all your questions, so get over to theslantederlens.com today.

61 Replies to “TSA Battery Restrictions – Flying with Lithium Ion”

  1. I always love your presentations, I needed a laugh today. As TSA regulations and travel have so many restrictions along with what you can carry, Traveling light, compact and productively has always been a concern . Thank you so much for answering a question that has been on my mind for some time…safely packing my gear and ease getting on the plane… thank you again… I truly appreciate you.

  2. You mixing up power (Watts) with energy (Watt hours).
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilowatt_hour
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watt

  3. This has cleared up everything for me on the battery travel front. Well done and thanks for your work!

  4. This Canon C200 battery has 90 Wh https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1159864-REG/canon_0870c002_bp_a60_battery_pack_for.html

    'Watt-hours' (Whr) is very important. Watts (W) is the rate the battery drains, vs, Whr that is the capacity (think volume). A high W battery may have low Whr and vice versa.

  5. Only my opinion; but I've personally never experienced (or for all that matter even heard account of) a TSA employee whom I suspect can read; is capable of communication beyond single syllables; and who isn't exhibiting insufferably crippling attitude issues… Again, just my opinion.

  6. NIkon camera batteries come with a plastic clip-on piece which covers the contacts. Great in your bag, too, to prevent accidental shorting. And they don't come off easily.

  7. Some smaller camera batteries come with translucent plastic boxes. And they sell them on ebay too. I always use the boxes. They fit one battery snugly.

  8. if ur just carrying batteries in one case I'd advise to make it a soft (light) case rather than a heavy peli sort of case…adds even more unnecessary weight otherwise.

  9. This kills me that you are saying watts….. Jeez. Watt hours.. I think people may get it overall…but man… Words matter. And my 700 watt hour ebike battery is a no go huh?

  10. But JP, what about the charge on the batteries? Is discharging them before a flight just for certain international flights or all international flights?

  11. Some countries like China and Thailand will look for the Watt-Hr rating of batteries at the security checkpoints. If the rating is too high, or if they can't read it, they will confiscate it.

  12. Lithium Ion batteries do not consist of two containers with a thin piece of plastic in between.
    You are talking Watts where you should be talking Watt-hours.
    What use is information if it is wrong?

  13. Volts x Amps does indeed equal Watts, but it definitely doesn't give you the metric that matters to the TSA: Watt-Hours.

  14. Watts are like horsepower of your car's engine. Watt.hours are like the gallons of gas in its tank. Many batteries specify Amp.hours or milli.Amp.hours (your electricity bill is in kilo.Watt.hours I guess). Imagine a 3.6V cell rated 10,000 mAh. That is 10 A.h and 10 x 3.6 = 36 W.h.

  15. None of these are TSA regulations. They are regulations from PHMSA which is the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is a division of the DOT Department of Transportation. These regulations can be found via a google search "49 CFR Part 175.10". The regulation speaks to Watt-Hours Wh, not just Watts.

  16. if I travel with my laptop and cell phone both of which have lithium-ion batteries how would I go about doing that? could I keep my phone on my person?

  17. Can anyone help me. I have 5 emergency lighting Ni cd batteries, 4500mah and each half kg. Can I carry in flight.

  18. Where is the TSA document located? I clicked on the link that goes to the BnH page but can't seem to locate the document.

  19. Can I expect to be able to have 3 Li-Ion batteries from my Nikon D5200 in a Pelican 1010 in my carry-on? -international/SE Asia

  20. lol dude its not watts… its watt hours. & it has to be <160 Wh…. you really should revise this cuz a lot of folks are getting totally wrong information here

  21. Bkgd music completely unnecessary………………………….distracting…obnoxious…but thanks for the info.

  22. Soo as far as a 8,000 mah power bank i cant put that in a carry one it has to be checked in with my checked luggage ?

  23. Thanks for breaking this down for us – I really appreciate it 🙂 Excited to start flying with my cameras (and batteries)

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