New Baggage Restrictions for Li-Ion Batteries


As of Jan. 1, 2008 on U.S. flights, if you pack a spare Li-Ion battery in your carry-on luggage, it has to be in a plastic bag or in the original packaging. Here's the verbiage from the Department of Transportation.

Passengers will no longer be able to pack loose lithium batteries in checked luggage beginning January 1, 2008 once new federal safety rules take effect. 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. Common consumer electronics such as travel cameras, cell phones, and most laptop computers are still allowed in carry-on and checked luggage. However, the rule limits individuals to bringing only two extended-life spare rechargeable lithium batteries*, such as laptop and professional audio/video/camera equipment lithium batteries in carry-on baggage...

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Hi Derrick-

I've recently discovered your podcast and am really enjoying it. I've been working my way through your archives to catch up. Thanks for all of the time and effort you put into these shows.

On the issue of batteries: It appears the batteries they are referring to are Lithium rather than Lithium Ion. These cells are a non-rechargeable alternative to alkaline cells. I use them in my flash in lieu of "AA" size alkaline batteries. They have a phenomenal lifespan, don't lose power during non-use like rechargeable batteries, and deliver full power until the very end of their life. The drawback: when they die, they die fast.
This new airport regulation SHOULDN'T affect the extra NiCd, NiMH, and LiOn batteries that we carry for cameras, phones, etc.

I hope that helps. I look forward to meeting you at MacWorld. I'm hoping to take your class during the User's Conference.

Scott Markarian

Hi Scott,

Thanks for your note and your support. This will be interesting to see what happens when we actually go through security. The advisory states "Lithium batteries of any kind." So my take on this would be both non-rechargeable and rechargeable types. But it could shake out the way you describe when we actually go through security. I'll have my first test this weekend when I fly to Tampa.

The TSA documents mention both "Lithium ion" and "primary Lithium" batteries.

I went through TSA security this weekend at San Francisco airport with my batteries stowed in my bag as normal. I had the baseplates clipped to the bottom of each battery, as I always do. No one seemed to have a problem with my packing.

Hi Derrick,

in yesterday's New York Times online edition there was an article by Joe Sharkey about the battery rule. Apparently the warning refers to non-consumer batteries, but the rules don't seem quite clear. The article can be found at

I just went through both PDX and LAS in the past two days. I carefully pulled out the four spare camera batteries and the MacBookPro spare, and enclosed each one in its own plastic bag (ziploc for the small batteries, and an Apple bag for the laptop battery).

Absolutely *no* change in procedure. They didn't *ask* if I had lithum, even during an "advanced search" that I got targeted for in LAS (because I changed my flight at the last minute).

So, if this is what it is, no big deal. Phew.

From a press release
"PHMSA Press Release 11-07" (see link at end of quote)

Common consumer electronics such as digital cameras, cell phones, and most notebook computers are still allowed in carry-on and checked luggage. Moreover, any number of spare batteries for these devices will be allowed in carry-on baggage if they are properly protected from short circuiting and do not exceed 8 grams (~100 watt hours) of equivalent lithium content. All lithium-ion cell phone and standard notebook computer batteries are below 8 grams (~100 watt hours) of equivalent lithium content. Batteries not installed in electronic devices are not permitted in checked baggage.

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