Can you use a power bank on a plane?

The airline sector has very strict rules on items allowed inside a plane, and knowing what to carry or not when flying can be challenging. Unfortunately, power banks and batteries, in general, are not exempted from these regulations. Because of this, many travelers aren’t sure whether they’re allowed to bring power banks on a plane or not. 

If you’re concerned about your power bank being confiscated while you fly, here’s everything you need to know. 

Are You Allowed to Have a Power Bank on a Plane?

Are you allowed to have a power bank on a plane? Yes, you are. This is great news if you’re planning to work when you’re flying or plan to recharge your devices when you land. However, you can only carry one under certain capacities. 

TSA and FAA Regulations Regarding Portable Chargers 

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are the regulatory bodies that decide what items are allowed on board. They have enforced these rules on power banks and other rechargeable lithium-ion batteries like your laptop batteries and mobile phones. 

1. The maximum capacity allowed is 100Wh

The FAA dictates that you shouldn’t carry any battery that exceeds 100 watts per hour (Wh). In addition, power banks and external chargers are also considered batteries and shouldn’t exceed a capacity of 100Wh or 27000mAh. 

While most power banks will fall under this limit, it’s important always to double-check your power bank’s capacity before you board a plane. If you find out at the security checkpoint that your power bank’s capacity exceeds the capacity required, you’ll have to leave it with the security staff.

If your battery falls within 101Wh and 160Wh, you will need special permission from the airline you’re traveling with. If its capacity is above 160Wh, it’s forbidden on board.

Why Is Wh Used and Not mAh?

While most power banks are marketed by their milliampere per hours (mAh), this metric is only useful when comparing products that use the same type of batter. On the other hand, watts per hour refers to the amount of power the power bank can supply. This makes watts per hour a better standard when comparing different types of batteries. 

How to calculate capacity in Wh

For most power banks, the capacity is listed as a four or a five-digit number representing the device’s mAh instead of Wh.  If you want to work out your power banks capacity to watts per hour, you can do this by using this formula

Milliamp hours/1000 x Voltage = watts per hour

mAh/1000 x (V) = (Wh)

2. Power banks are to be transported in carry-on luggage only

The TSA only allows passengers to carry their power banks in carry-on bags but not in checked-in bags. This rule is enforced for passenger safety.

Power banks are essentially batteries that utilize lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are highly combustible and are therefore restricted from cargo transport as part of airline regulations.  Power banks also contain flammable materials that can cause a risk of fire or an explosion during the flight.  

Logically, it’s easier for the crew members to put out any fire if the source was in the cabin rather than the cargo area since there are fire extinguishers readily available in the cabin. Additionally, the crew members can easily detect fires in the cabin compared to fire incidences in the cargo area. 

If you pack your power bank in your checked-in luggage, airport security may call upon you to remove it, or worse, they may remove it themselves or confiscate it. Either way, it’s easier to avoid both scenarios by making sure you place your power bank in your carry-on luggage. 

It’s also crucial that you properly pack your power bank so that it is protected from a potential short circuit. An effective way to pack it is by using the retail park. If the pack is lost, you can cover the power bank’s terminals with tape and put it in a plastic bag or protective pouch. 

3. You are allowed a maximum of two power banks between 100Wh and 160Wh

You are only allowed to have no more than two power banks on board, each with a capacity of between 100Wh to 160Wh.  

The TSA and FAA dictate that all power banks carried on board must be for personal use only and do not allow the transportation of batteries intended for later resale. 

International Airports and Non-US Airline Regulations for Rechargeable Batteries

If you’re flying in Asia or Europe, these regulations may differ from those in the United States. For example, some non-US airlines only restrict a maximum capacity of 100Wh, unlike in the 160Wh that the USA allows.  Therefore, you need to check the rules of the airline company you intend to travel with and the on-route airports before your flight to avoid inconveniences.

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