New Rules for Flying with Laptop Batteries

Airlines Laptop BatteriesThe Department of Transportation is rolling out new restrictions on flying with lithium-ion batteries in the new year. It’s time to stock up on plastic baggies if you’re like me and carry lots of tech gear while traveling.The new rules are already causing confusion and are sure to create security-line delays.

According to a press release, “The new regulation, designed to reduce the risk of lithium battery fires, will continue to allow lithium batteries in checked baggage if they are installed in electronic devices, or in carry-on baggage if stored in plastic bags.”

Simply put, most passengers will have to remember two things:

1) Don’t pack spare batteries in your checked baggage.

2) If you carry on spare batteries, you must pack them in plastic bags.

While you can put your laptop with a battery installed in your checked baggage, I would NEVER recommend this. Valuables have a way of being damaged, lost or stolen (my sister-in-law’s baggage showed up late on Christmas Eve, minus an iPod and several other items).

Passengers are allowed to carry batteries with up to eight grams of lithium, which is more than common laptop and gadget batteries. Larger batteries, such as extended external batteries are still allowed, but you may only bring a maximum of two on board.

To find out if your extended batteries are above the eight-gram limit, look closely at writing on the back of them. Look for the amount of watt-hours (commonly expressed as “Wh” or “W-h”). Six and eight-cell laptop batteries are always below the 100Wh threshold. 12-cell laptop batteries are borderline. For example, HP’s 12-cell battery for its dv-series laptops are 95Wh.

Any battery with more than 25 grams of lithium (about 300Wh) is not allowed on board.

Here are the official rules from the DOT:

Effective January 1, 2008, the following rules apply to the spare lithium batteries you carry with you in case the battery in a device runs low: * Spare batteries are the batteries you carry separately from the devices they power. When batteries are installed in a device, they are not considered spare batteries.
* You may not pack a spare lithium battery in your checked baggage
* You may bring spare lithium batteries with you in carry-on baggage â€âہ see our spare battery tips and how-to sections to find out how to pack spare batteries safely!
* Even though we recommend carrying your devices with you in carry-on baggage as well, if you must bring one in checked baggage, you may check it with the batteries installed.

The following quantity limits apply to both your spare and installed batteries. The limits are expressed in grams of âہ“equivalent lithium content.â€Â 8 grams of equivalent lithium content is approximately 100 watt-hours. 25 grams is approximately 300 watt-hours:

* Under the new rules, you can bring batteries with up to 8-gram equivalent lithium content. All lithium ion batteries in cell phones are below 8 gram equivalent lithium content. Nearly all laptop computers also are below this quantity threshold.
* You can also bring up to two spare batteries with an aggregate equivalent lithium content of up to 25 grams, in addition to any batteries that fall below the 8-gram threshold. Examples of two types of lithium ion batteries with equivalent lithium content over 8 grams but below 25 are shown below.
* For a lithium metal battery, whether installed in a device or carried as a spare, the limit on lithium content is 2 grams of lithium metal per battery.
* Almost all consumer-type lithium metal batteries are below 2 grams of lithium metal. But if you are unsure, contact the manufacturer!

Examples of extended-life rechargeable lithium batteries (more than 8 but not more than 25 grams of equivalent lithium content):

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