Batteries in Hand Luggage: This is What you Need to Know

Batteries in Hand Luggage

 

Am I allowed to carry batteries in Hand Luggage?

Batteries are generally permitted in hand luggage. Alkaline batteries (dry alkaline cells; commercially available AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt, button cells, etc.) are unproblematic in hand luggage.

It gets more complicated with lithium-ion batteries/rechargeable batteries. By the way, this also includes the popular powerbanks! Up to a capacity of 100 watt-hours per battery, they are usually allowed to carry commercially available lithium-ion battery types. In addition, most airlines allow you to carry two more powerful replacement lithium-ion batteries with a capacity of between 100 and 160 watt-hours in your hand luggage. However, those lithium-ion batteries with a rated output of 100-160 watt-hours usually require the approval of the carrier, i.e. the airline! Lithium-ion batteries with more than 160-watt-hours are prohibited in both hand luggage and checked baggage. Such batteries can be found in electric bikes, car batteries and underwater lamps.

Small vehicles like Airwheels, Solowheels, Hoverboards, Mini-Segways, Luggage Scooters and Balance Wheels, which are equipped with lithium batteries, may not be transported in hand luggage or as check-in luggage, regardless of their watt-hours, and are only accepted as freight.

Most drones are equipped with lithium polymer batteries, also known as LiPo. Lithium polymer batteries are to be understood as a kind of subtype of lithium-ion batteries and are therefore treated in the same way as lithium-ion batteries (as described above) when it comes to transport. Accordingly, the accumulators/batteries of drones must be carried in hand luggage (because of the fire hazard.)

But what about the rest of the drones? Are you allowed to transport the housing in hand luggage? More and more airlines forbid the transport of drones (without battery!) in hand luggage. So if you have a drone with you, be sure to consult the airline’s website (or call them) and find out what’s happening with drones.

Lithium metal batteries up to 2 grams lithium per battery may be carried in hand luggage.

Lithium metal batteries with 2 to 8 grams of lithium per battery may also be carried in hand luggage. Batteries in this category carried as spare batteries are limited to two pieces (including external chargers of the Powerbank type!).

Lithium metal batteries with a lithium content between 2 and 8 grams may NOT be carried in checked baggage as a replacement battery. Everything is relatively complicated. Accordingly, we have once again summarised everything in a clear and structured table for you!

 

Type of BatteryApproval required by Airline?Allowed in Hand Luggage?Allowed in Checked Baggage?Can be found in:
LITHIUM-METAL-BATTERIES (with less than 2 gramm Lithium) and LITHIUM-ION-BATTERIES (with up to 100 watt-hours)NOIn equipment:YES
as replacement battery: YES
In equipment:YES
as replacement battery: NO
Laptops, Mobile Phones, Digital Cameras
LITHIUM-METAL-BATTERIES (with more than 2 g Lithium BUT less than 8 g) and LITHIUM-ION-BATTERIES (between 100-160 watt-hours)YESIn equipment:YES
as replacement battery: YES
In equipment:YES
as replacement battery: NO
Video-Equipment, Portable Medical Equipment, Powerbanks
LITHIUM-METAL-BATTERIES (with more than 8 g Lithium) and LITHIUM-ION-BATTERIES (more than 160 watt-hours)ITEM IS FORBIDDEN IN BOTH HAND LUGGAGE AND CHECKED LUGGAGEIn equipment: NO
as replacement battery: NO
In equipment: NO
as replacement battery: NO
E-Bikes, Segways, Car Batteries, Underwater Lamps

 

Briefcases with built-in alarm systems equipped with lithium-ion batteries are generally prohibited on board.

Portable medical electronic devices, such as automated external defibrillators (AEDs), inhalers, ventilators and so on, which are taken on board for medical purposes and contain lithium metal or lithium ion cells/batteries/rechargeable batteries, may only be carried in the hand luggage of many airlines and usually require the Carrier’s prior approval.

Passengers with reduced mobility who wish to carry an electric wheelchair are generally not permitted to take it into the cabin. For transport in general (in the cargo hold), it must be noted that the electric wheelchair should be equipped with a dry or gel battery.

If the wheelchair is equipped with a leak-proof wet battery, you should contact your airline to find out how to proceed.

Electric wheelchairs with non-spill-proof wet batteries are prohibited on certain airlines (in hand luggage). Removable leak-proof lithium-ion batteries (sometimes found in electric wheelchairs and other mobility aids) with more than 300-watt-hours in hand luggage are also prohibited. Whether and how such batteries can be transported is best clarified with your airline company (call or check the website for details).

Defective and damaged batteries are generally not allowed on board. In addition, charging rechargeable batteries on board is strictly prohibited.

Small tip: If you are not sure what kind of batteries are used in your equipment, you can often tell by the battery name:

  • The designation R stands for zinc-carbon battery —> rather outdated, because not very powerful. Some of them are still used in pocket calculators, alarm clocks, watches and remote controls. Attention: Batteries are not leak-proof
  • The designation LR stands for alkaline-manganese battery —> more powerful than zinc-carbon battery. Repels the R-battery from the market
  • The designation L stands for lithium batteries
  • The designation CR stands for lithium round cell —> button cell
  • The term NiMH stands for nickel-metal hydride accumulator. They are often found in the usual designs of stand batteries
  • The term LiPo stands for lithium polymer battery. They are used, for example, in drones

Information about the battery types that are problematic is listed by all airlines on their websites under a heading that is usually called Dangerous Goods or similar. We have once again put our foot down by finding the relevant websites of the most important airlines in Europe for our readers so that you can quickly get an idea of your airline’s battery regulations. Simply click on the name of the airline, and you will be taken directly to the regulations of the respective airline!

 

Batteries must be stored safely | Safety regulations

Replacement batteries (of all types) – i.e. batteries that are transported separately from the corresponding device – must be protected from damage and short circuits, and battery-powered devices in hand luggage must be protected from accidental activation and heat generation.

 

What does short-circuit mean and what can you do about it?

A short-circuit on batteries means that when metal objects such as keys, pendants or coins come into contact with the two terminals of the battery, a circuit may be created through which electricity can flow. Strong heat and sparks can result, in the worst case even a fire. Replacement batteries must, therefore, be stored safely. Transport in the original packaging is a good option. Or, for example, in a separate bag so that the batteries do not come into direct contact with other (metal) objects.

Small tip: To insulate loose batteries (in hand luggage) from short circuits, you can also simply attach adhesive tape over the battery connections. Nevertheless, you should store the batteries in a separate bag if possible and preferably in such a way that the batteries have no room to move.

Battery SizesHere are the different sizes/names of conventional batteries, from left to right: 1. D, 2. C, 3. AA, 4. AAA, 5. PP3 (9V).

How do you calculate the watt-hour number of batteries?

As explained in the first section, the watt-hours for lithium-ion (polymer) batteries are decisive for how and whether such batteries can be transported in hand luggage or not. With most newer lithium-ion batteries, the watt-hour number can be taken directly from the battery.

However, if you still have batteries, where this is not the case, you can calculate the watt-hour number yourself by multiplying the nominal voltage in volts of the battery by the battery capacity in ampere-hours (Ah).

Sounds complicated? Maybe —> but it is quite simple. A small example to illustrate this.

Suppose we have a 12-volt battery with a capacity of 4 amp hours. All you have to do now to find out the watt-hours is multiply the number of volts by the capacity of the ampere-hours, so just 12 x 4. The number of watt-hours, in this case, is 48. If the battery capacity is given in milliampere hours (mAh) – which is not seldom the case – then simply multiply the milliampere hours (mAh) by the corresponding number of volts and divide the result by 1000 to find out the effective watt-hours or calculate the whole thing online right here.

 

How much lithium do my batteries contain?

As we saw in the first section, lithium metal batteries may only contain up to 2 grams of lithium per battery to be approved as a spare battery for transport in onboard luggage. But how do you find out how much lithium is in a battery? In contrast to the watt-hours, which you can usually take directly from the battery/rechargeable battery, the indication of the lithium content can often not be found on the battery itself. You will usually only find this information on the manufacturer’s product data sheet.

 

Is there an upper limit for batteries in hand luggage?

There is no upper limit for standard batteries and conventional battery-operated devices. However, these batteries must be carried by the passenger for personal use.

For the more powerful lithium-ion batteries (between 100 and 160-watt-hours), the upper limit is two batteries per passenger. As far as the transport of leak-proof wet batteries is concerned, the number is usually limited to two uninstalled replacement batteries.

 

What type of batteries can be found in what type of equipment?

In order to be able to follow the different regulations and guidelines regarding batteries, you first have to know which batteries your devices are actually equipped with. Not so easy for the battery layman!

That’s why we would like to provide some examples. Of course, there are various devices that use different battery types depending on the model and the version. Those examples should serve as a point of reference, food for thought and checklist. Check your batteries in your hand baggage again afterwards and pay particular attention to the lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries and make sure that you transport them in accordance with the rules (as described in all facets in this article). In the table above (Lithium Battery Regulations) you will also find examples of devices in which the corresponding battery types may occur. Please look at this list again as a supplement.

Examples:

Lithium-ion batteries are used in powerbanks, computers, modern electric wheelchairs, flashlights, RC model cars, tablets, digital cameras, notebook batteries.

Lithium metal batteries are often used in cameras and other rather small electronic devices.

 

Official statements by various airlines on the subject of batteries in hand luggage

Let us have a look at what the different airlines have to say about batteries in Hand Luggage.

 

British Airways:

British Airways talks about batteries in hand luggage on their page for “Banned and Restricted Items“:

Check the section Batteries, electric and electronic devices.

Condor

Lithium batteries or accumulators. No more than two individual lithium batteries or accumulators with a watt-hour capacity up to 160 Wh may be carried as replacement cells for electronic consumer goods. The carriage of individual batteries or accumulators with a watt-hour capacity of 100 Wh to 160 Wh requires the prior consent of the airline

Lufthansa

The following items may not be transported in the hold, but only in the cabin: Fuel cell systems and replacement fuel cartridges, portable oxygen concentrators, safety matches and lighters as well as replacement batteries (lithium metal, lithium ions) and electronic cigarettes.

SWISS

Replacement batteries for portable electronic devices/rechargeable battery (powerbanks):

  • All spare batteries only allowed in hand luggage.
  • Batteries with 100 Wh to 160 Wh power, maximum two pieces and only after notice.
  • Batteries over 160 Wh generally prohibited.

 

Batteries in Hand Luggage: Conclusion

Conclusion: When transporting batteries in hand luggage, a large number of regulations, instructions and safety rules must be observed. Generally, the transport of batteries in Hand Luggage is prefered over the carriage in Checked Baggage. For some types of batteries, the carriage in Hand Luggage is even mandatory (for instance, powerbanks!).

Just as strict are the regulations for liquids, sharp objects (knives and scissors) and souvenirs in (hand) luggage. Of course, we will also help you with the transport of these items in your hand luggage. Just click on the links to get more info about it.

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