No More Loose Non-Rechargable Lithium Batteries In Checked Luggage

The TSA has announced a ban on loose non-rechargeable lithium batteries in checked luggage, because they’ve realized that “fire-protection systems in the cargo hold of passenger planes can’t put out fires sparked in lithium batteries.”

Well, that’s not good.

From the AP:

Passengers can still check baggage with lithium batteries if they are installed in electronic devices, such as cameras, cell phones and laptop computers. If packed in plastic bags, batteries may be in carryon baggage. The limit is two batteries per passenger.

Baggage Ban on Batteries Begins [AP]

Comments

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  1. Charles256 says:

    Shouldn’t that be the airlines decision and not the TSA? I think the government is overstepping it’s bounds with this whole TSA thing but then again, what do I know?

  2. Myotheralt says:

    So, what does this affect? I have 2 extra batteries for my laptop, can I no longer take those, if so, is it restricted to only carry on?

  3. Skeptic says:

    You forgot to note that the ban also means no spare rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries in checked luggage, you know, all of your spare rechargeable Li-Ion camera flash, camera, video camera, laptop, cell phone, AAA, AA, etc. batteries. I think that will affect people more than the lithium battery issue.

  4. timmus says:

    With his 150-cell lithium battery bomb plans thwarted, Ahmed digs out the discarded design for the shampoo bomb and ponders. Shall it be Pert or Pantene for the imperialist dogs?

  5. suburbancowboy says:

    So now when I go on vacation, I can only bring one battery for my camera? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Any amateur or professional photographer always carries more than one battery.

  6. homerjay says:

    Well, at least they’ve given a valid reason unlike virtually all of the other bannings they’ve enacted. Thats a step in… well, SOME direction.

  7. suburbancowboy says:

    Edit: I should’ve read that article. All you have to do is pack it in a plastic bag. It just can’t be loose.

  8. forgottenpassword says:

    wooooo-hooo! Another little thing to add to the “dont fly with” list!

    Pretty soon the average passenger will need to hire a “security consultant” before flying to make sure they are following all the inane rules the TSA has thought up.

  9. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    Yeah, because lithium AA batteries explode like, all the time!

  10. lalala1956 says:

    I’ve yet to see an AP, Reuters or other news article describe this situation correctly. Here’s a link with more specific details:

    [safetravel.dot.gov]

    I freaked out when I saw the stories because I’m a journalist and have 3 backup lith-ion laptop batteries plus batteries for other stuff. You can have unlimited backup batteries in your carry-on if they are under certain “lithium content” limits.

    Above a certain level, you can only have 2 of these above limit batteries although how the frick is the TSA gonna be able to tell the difference in a speedy manner between a battery below the limit and above (just look at the link)

  11. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    @homerjay: I agree. At least there’s some reasoning to this, although it seems to me that there’s only slightly less chance for a fire if the batteries are installed in a device, since the battery terminals in the device could break or short out.

    The article seems vague about bringing lithium batteries on-board if they’re in the original packaging. The article says “non-rechargeable” batteries..so are rechargeable ones still okay? Jesus, this gets confusing.

    The whole point seems to be moot anyway, because every time they do a random check, the TSA can’t find half the fake bombs, so I don’t have much faith that they’re going to be able to find every renegade lithium battery.

  12. lalala1956 says:

    Timmus that post isn’t as funny as your usual content. I’m declaring Savvy my favorite poster again although I haven’t seen his/her posts here in a day or so. Keep up the good attempts

  13. cobaltthorium says:

    what the fuck? I understand the reasoning – but why limit it two per passenger?

  14. lalala1956 says:

    @DWAYNE_DIBBLY:

    Just read the TSA link I provided for a full explanation of the new rules:

    [safetravel.dot.gov]

  15. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    @lalala1956: Well, that’s helpful, anyway, although like you say, who’s going to be standing around the airport trying to verify the lithium content of a battery.

    My guess: They’re going to just confiscate what seem to be random amounts of spare batteries of any kind, because I don’t see how they could possibly sort this out.

  16. lalala1956 says:

    It’s only a limit of 2 if they are above a certain lithium content limit! I’m pulling out hair trying to explain this and running around naked!!!

  17. lalala1956 says:

    I’m in full agreement with you Dwayne

  18. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    @lalala1956: Thanks for the link.

    Umm…are you posting to the Consumerist naked???? :D

  19. TechnoDestructo says:

    @aaron8301:

    Not sure about AA batteries specifically, but that isn’t all that’s covered by the ban:

    [consumerist.com]

    [www.google.com]

    Actual cargo fire from lithium batteries:
    [www.ntsb.gov]

    Oh here we go, non-rechargeables. I think this is the actual study that precipitated this rule.

    Not so much about them spontaneously bursting into flames, but what happens if they’re caught in a fire (they make the fire much, MUCH worse, can’t be extinguished, and can burn through the cargo container).
    [www.mobilit.fgov.be]

  20. nursetim says:

    Yet another reason to avoid flying.

  21. wring says:

    are you fucking kidding me

  22. Myotheralt says:

    @TechnoDestructo: So, The Consumerist is now banned from flights?

    “… and can burn through the cargo container). ” kinda like thermite?

  23. TechnoDestructo says:

    @nursetim:

    Not that there aren’t a bunch of reasons to avoid flying, but I don’t think this adds to the list. This one actually makes sense. Assuming it is accompanied by new packaging requirements for any bulk packages of batteries (and maybe requiring that such shipments not be charged), it does seem like it is actually, legitimately reducing a very real danger.

    Plus, putting batteries in carry-on (which more people are likely to do now, even if it isn’t absolutely required) means they’re not going to be subjected to as much pressure or rough handling, and if something DOES happen, people will be able to do something about it.

    This isn’t more TSA security theater, this is a legitimate response to a legitimate SAFETY (as opposed to security) threat.

  24. TechnoDestructo says:

    Holy crap, this sounds awesome:

    “Extracting lithium foil from a battery”
    [www.theodoregray.com]

  25. LucyInTheSky says:

    well the right thing to do here would be to improve the fire-protection systems on the planes, but i suppose it’s cheaper to just ban something.

  26. Televiper says:

    This really isn’t that unreasonable. This is probably a good list of recommendations for handling your lithium batteries in any case. The majority of the batteries consumers will be using will fall beneath the thresholds they are listening. A 250gram Lithium battery is kind of thing you find in a UPS, or professional camera system. I doubt the guy with professional video equipment has a deep preference for throwing his batteries in with his T-Shirts.

  27. Televiper says:

    @LucyInTheSky: Upgrading the fire system on every single air craft could take years.

  28. autoclavicle says:

    Hide your lithium batteries in a bomb. TSA won’t find it that way.

  29. bilge says:

    UPS 1307: [www.ntsb.gov]

  30. Shutterman says:

    My biggest question is, are they going to hold people using Ni-Cad batteries to the same limits and policies since airport security may not be able to tell, or even know, the difference?

  31. Shutterman says:

    @Shutterman: What I should say is, are there reasons to limit Ni-Cad and Ni-MH batteries as well?

  32. TechnoDestructo says:

    Every Li-ion battery I have is identified as such on the outside.

  33. Karl says:

    As pointed out above, the rules are more complex than the news articles make them out to be. You can transport any number of spare batteries that contain less than 8g of lithium (or equivalent), but only in carry-on baggage. This is also not a TSA rule — it comes from the DOT, although it’s possible that the TSA will be enforcing the rule. There’s also been several instances of batteries catching fire, so the threat is actually real. More at Bruce Schneier’s blog.

  34. overbysara says:

    how about we take care of the REAL problem and just say no humans are allowed to fly. those damn humans with their weapons of destruction and stuff. THEY’RE the problem. always trying to carry stuff around standing up on two feet thinkin’ they’re all fancy.

  35. inspiron says:

    @autoclavicle:
    ” BY AUTOCLAVICLE AT 04:14 PM

    Hide your lithium batteries in a bomb. TSA won’t find it that way. “

    HAHAHAH thats funny!

    But seriously, everytime they tighten restrictions driving becomes a more attractive solution.

    How many years before you cannot bring anything on a plane and you must strip naked, have a cavity search preformed on you then wear your TSA approved shower curtain on the plane and buy new clothes when you get off.

  36. ageshin says:

    Let us hope that TSA has not heard of gun cotton or no more shorts or t shirts on board.

  37. bobpence says:

    I thought this might happen, but what fun timing: I just got back home with four Cellboosts — clearance at Office Depot near my folk’s place — in the past hour. Checking contents of checked baggage now… that’s comforting, first time in years my bag wasn’t inspected.

  38. Busybyeski says:

    @suburbancowboy: Good thing plastic bags can’t be penetrated.

    An even better thing they don’t make plastic bags with puny zip-locks. All anyone would have to do is UNZIP their bag to get loose batteries. Good thing that doesn’t exist.

  39. swalve says:

    @myotheralt: A lot like thermite. LiIon batteries have a high energy content and can put that out very quickly. Hook a wire to a normal battery and it gets hot. Hook the same wire to a LiIon battery and it explodes.

  40. Firstborn Dragon says:

    I looked at those rules. It looks like the forbidden or limited batters are well… Rather evedent. They’re huge compaird to every other sort of battery.

    Still it’s confusing what is allowed and not and where it can be.

  41. WolfDemon says:

    Well this may cause some complications with my trip to Spain this summer…

  42. FLConsumer says:

    God, I hope the TSA screeners don’t mistake rechargable NiMH batteries for lithiums — I usually travel with about 20 of them on any trip. Currently on the road with 24 AA’s, 8 AAA’s and will be pissed if the TSA thugs won’t let me carry them with me.

    On the LiIon batts, I have seen numerous reports of cheap Chinese CR123 lithium cells exploding (with pics) over at CandlePowerForums. Fortunately most of the people over there are using them in higher-quality flashlights, so they’re contained within the metal flashlight body, but consumer camera equipment isn’t. No reports of quality name-brand CR123’s self-igniting yet.

  43. Sestos says:

    The US airline industry is broken compared to the services provided internationally.

    TSA could provide a useful service if used correctly, I expect that within the next 5 years there will be large reforms to TSA.

    I do not get concerned with new polices because quite frankly most TSA employees do not know their own polices, I have taken to downloading and carrying a printout from TSA website when I travel after an incident in Sept 07 flying out of ATL.

    Currently the majority of the policies are based on fear. We only allow 3oz of fluid on, due to fear of liquid exposives yet none of the ground crew is searched or examined when they are working on the aircraft. Just the common knowledge that the threat exists prevents it being used again. If someone were to stand up on a plane w/ a weapon and attempt to hijack it. I have serious doubts that he would survive the number of passengers who would attempt to restain or outright kill him.

    Is it possible something can be brought on board to cause the cabin to depressuize due to an explosion? Yes, but what point would it serve to a terroists agenda.

  44. holocron says:

    “Passengers can still check baggage with lithium batteries if they are installed in electronic devices, such as cameras, cell phones and laptop computers.”

    However, the airlines specifically instruct you NOT to include any of these “fragile” electronic items in checked baggage. They will not cover any damage to them.

  45. tarrsky says:

    @inspiron “How many years before you cannot bring anything on a plane and you must strip naked, have a cavity search preformed on you then wear your TSA approved shower curtain on the plane and buy new clothes when you get off.”

    Look on the bright side: the xray and exam by the TSA could be the best medical exam you can afford!

  46. Rusted says:

    @Sestos: Actually something like TSA existed in Western Europe during the 80s. After awhile they realized that though they didn’t want to go back to rent-a-cops, they could privatize it and not have herds of under-worked over-paid public servants wandering around.

    “yet none of the ground crew is searched or examined when they are working on the aircraft”….yes they are. EVERYONE gets screened. That’s from the chief cook to the bottle washer.

    The lithium battery rule is a good thing. I’ve heard of cell phones and laptops bursting into flame.

  47. richsim says:

    Folks, a couple of corrections:
    1) This is not a TSA decision, but a Department of Transportation one (see the DOT press release at [tinyurl.com]).
    2) The basis for the rule is not protection against terrorism but to address the danger that lithium batteries pose if there is a fire, particularly in the cargo hold. To quote the press release, “Safety testing conducted by the FAA found that current aircraft cargo fire suppression system would not be capable of suppressing a fire if a shipment of non-rechargeable lithium batteries were ignited in flight.”

  48. starbreiz says:

    OK, the AP article contradicted a number of things the dot.gov site says. AP says plastic bags, dot.gov makes no mention of this. dot.gov also says batteries installed in devices that are checked are forbidden. The dot.gov site also makes no mention of the reasoning behind this change. dot.gov makes no distinction between rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries.

    What’s more, is I’m in the middle of a trip at the moment. I’ll be flying home on Jan 1, when this goes into action. I can see TSA not being able to distinguish one type of battery from another, and security being a mess.

    I’m inclined to listen to the dot.gov site, but I’d like to know where the AP got their details.

  49. bvita says:

    Actually there’s a somewhat valid reason for this ban. Any type of battery floating loose in a bag that hits something metal that shorts it out (real easy w/ 9Volt ones) can cause the battery to overheat and potentially explode. I saw this years ago when I worked in retail and some of my (genius) coworkers dumped a boatload of loose AA Duracells in a “dumpbin” for sale individually. Somehow several of the batteries made the right contact and, voila, we had smoke. When this happens you have problems with conducted heat, potential fire, fumes and, particularly with litium batteries, hazardous chemicals. Using water based fire abatement chemicals on lithium batteries makes the problem worse. Not something you want in the hold of an aircraft.

    The brighter folks, and I’d like to consider myself one of them, who carry “loose” batteries in a bag will secure them with an elastic or some other means so that they can’t possibly make an errant contact and then place them in a plastic bag so that they won’t short to something else in the bag.

    While I haven’t read the exact verbiage of the ban, a simply solution when using “standard” (AA AAA, C, D 9V, etc) batteries would be to install them in an appropriate device. That is to say, if you’re carrying AA batteries for your flash unit, buy a cheap penlight, disable the bulb and use the penlight as a battery case. Use other devices as necessary. The batteries aren’t loose and you’re legal.

  50. Skiffer says:

    So, how long before they repeal this because of disposal costs, like the lighters?