Per the recent directive from Transportation Security Administration (TSA), except for medical devices, electronic devices which are larger than a cell phone/smart phone cannot be carried in the cabin of the aircraft from some countries into the United States. Many airlines are implementing this instruction and are requesting that all passengers traveling to the United States pack all electronic devices larger than a smart phone in their checked-in baggage.

The ICAO, IATA & FAA have already prohibited carrying spare lithium ion and/or lithium metal batteries in the aircraft hold area.

Is the transportation of spare lithium ion and/or lithium metal batteries in the passenger cabin of the aircraft now prohibited? Is it considered a rule violation to carry spare batteries this way?

Where can the spare lithium ion and/or lithium metal batteries be stowed during the prohibition period and how can they be transported?

  • $\begingroup$ If the risk is so high, how airline companies can allow the electronic devices operated by lithium ion battery such as laptops, cameras, tablets packed in a checked baggage be loaded in a belly compartment of an aircraft. How to make sure that all electronic devices operated by lithium ion battery stowed in a checked baggage protected. $\endgroup$ Mar 22 '17 at 7:06
  • $\begingroup$ @mins, quite a few incidents were reported already where a lithium-battery-powered device has ignited on board of an aircraft. In the cabin, the established procedure is to dump the device in a bucket of water, which will safely contain the thermal runaway. However, there is no access to the cargo bay in flight in most aircraft, so it can't be used there. The extinguisher should be able to prevent the fire spreading much, but it would still probably do significant damage. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Mar 27 '17 at 20:43

Short answer: Yes.

Slightly longer answer: IATA changed the regulations within the 58th Edition of the Dangerous Goods Guidelines, effective January 1st, 2017. For passenger aircraft, lithium batteries are only allowed if they are installed in equipment. Standalone lithium ion cells or batteries are no longer permitted on passenger aircraft.

If you want to air freight lithium batteries: Air transport of Lithium batteries is only allowed if they are charged to 30% or less of their nominal capacity. Also, the cell must comply with the United Nations (UN) Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, Sub‐Section 38.3 (see page 394ff in this document) and proper packaging and documentation must be ensured.

The rules in the US and elsewhere differ slightly. From this Energizer document on US air freight:

  • Batteries must be of a type proven to meet the requirements of each test in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria.

  • Batteries must be packed in strong outer packaging and be packaged in a manner to prevent short circuits and separated so that electrically active terminals cannot come into contact with each other.

  • The gross weight of the shippable container shall not exceed 30 kg. 

  • For lithium‐ion cell, the equivalent lithium content is not more than 1.5 g; or lithium‐ion battery, the aggregate equivalent lithium content is not more than 8 g.

  • The shippable container must be capable of passing a 1.2 m. drop test in any orientation without spillage of the contents of the packaging, damage to the batteries inside or shifting of the contents that could lead to short circuit.

  • The shippable container must be marked to indicate lithium batteries are present and that special procedures should be followed if the package is damaged.

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    $\begingroup$ So, I can't take a second battery for my camera with me... Nice... However, is a power bank a battery, or a device in this context? $\endgroup$
    – sweber
    Mar 21 '17 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ @sweber: That depends on the discretion of the airline staff. The 30% charge limit can be exceeded, for example, if the authorities in both the origin and destination country allow. When I purchase Li-ion-cells from China, they are routinely charged to 70% or more. Similar leeway exists in interpretation what exactly is equipment. $\endgroup$ Mar 22 '17 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ Dear Peter, thank u for your answer. When i check iata website it shows that spare lithium ion batteries with watt-hour rating equal/less than 100Wh can be carried in the passenger cabin without limit and maximum 2 pcs of lithium ion batteries with watt-hour rating greater than 100Wh but equal/less than 160Wh can be carried in the passenger cabin Can you tell me the exact reference chapter regarding standalone lithium batteries are no longer permitted to the aircraft. $\endgroup$ Mar 22 '17 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ @GolfCharlie: I admit that I did not dig as deeply as you. My reference is this overview page. The linked document only contains the changes - the "real" IATA rules are more extensive. As I understand it, the size limits apply to airfreight, not passenger aircraft. $\endgroup$ Mar 22 '17 at 8:18

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