December 29, 2007

Traveling with lithium batteries There are several posts in the usual places about new regulations that control traveling with lithium metal and lithium-ion batteries. I think they spring from a poorly sourced AP story. Both the DOT and TSA sites do not seem really change what even the most tech laden traveler will have to plan for unless you check your batteries or carry some very heavy duty Li-ions. These rules are effective January 1, 2008, I will be interested what if anything happens to the traveling monkeys in the group.

Since I frequently travel with more than 10 LI-ion batteries in devices and spares, I was ready to be outraged, but it appears that most consumer batteries (under 8 grams of lithium equivalent or 100 watt-hours) are not limited when in carry on luggage. For example a Macbook Pro battery is 60 watt hours. Li-ion batteries between 8 and 25 grams are limited to one in the device and two spares. Examples of these types of batteries as pictured on the DOT site are extended use camcorder and external laptop batteries. I know this might impact some professional videographers. I just wondered if anyone has heard anything more directly from reliable sources.

  • Your first link from the TSA site says the only restriction is that spare batteries (not installed in a device) can't be carried in checked baggage, but are still OK in carry-on. Lithium metal batteries over 2 grams are the only ones not allowed in carry-on. Is this really a big deal?
  • Carry them inside you.
  • It depends on the training of the TSA agents. Do any of them read their web site and learn to tell which batteries have lithium capacity limits and the difference between lithium metal and Li-ion, do they just ignore this since it is not about terrorism, or do they selectively enforce this based on TSA interpretation of the DOT rules (the scary possibility). This could be nothing, and I think this is a strong possibility, but nothing and the TSA rarely seems as simple as it should be. I hoped some might know more, perhaps new information at a security check point, or report back after the 1st.
  • Lithium batteries and fingernail clippers. We must stop the terrerists.