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January 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 32, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Rigid Rules for Flying with Lithium Batteries

from the January, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

To determine whether you can carry your lithium batteries on board a plane requires your close inspection of the batteries.

You see, it depends on their configuration and either Watt/Hour (Wh) rating for rechargeable batteries or Lithium Content (LC) for non-rechargeable batteries. To convert Amp/hours (Ah) to Wh, multiply the marked Ah rating by the rated voltage of the battery. (There are 1000 mAh in 1 Ah.)

Less than 100Wh or 2G (LC) batteries contained in equipment can be carried on or stowed in your checked baggage. Typically, the AA batteries commonly used in much photographic equipment fall into this category. However, you must carry spare batteries with you, not checked in.

Laptops usually have 11.1v batteries while mobile phones use 3.7v. More than 100Wh but less than 160 Wh batteries can be carried on or checked if installed within a laptop, camera or mobile phone, but you must carry on your spares (a maximum of two). However, you should get approval for the spares from check-in staff. If you have a video or powerful dive light, check the size of the batteries if they are lithium. They will be marked with Ah/voltage or Wh.

Batteries of more than 160 Wh can only be presented to check-in staff and packed in your checked luggage in accordance with IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations. Generally, large lithium battery packs such as used in DPVs are barred from air transport. If you want to transport such a DPV by air, check that its battery pack is ni-cad.

If you carry on spare batteries, their terminals must be protected from short-circuiting by either enclosing them in their original packaging, taping over the terminals, or carrying each battery in a separate plastic bag. Batteries in the mobile phones, laptops, etc., that you check must be switched off and measures taken, if necessary, to ensure they cannot be accidentally activated. More info: www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/dgr/Pages/index.aspx

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