Whether to carry a portable charger on a flight continues to be an issue each year. Most passengers want to carry one since they are uncertain of the charging stations at the airport or what they’ll encounter at the next end of their trip.
The Federal Aviation Authority(FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration(TSA) allow you to carry your portable charger in your carry-on baggage. Still, you could land into hot water with them or have it confiscated if you check power banks with your other luggage.
A portable charger, in the eyes of the FAA, is a spare lithium battery and is therefore treated as such and considered dangerous. Below is the FAA Guidance on Portable Chargers.
Carriage of Spare Lithium Batteries in Carry-on and Checked Baggage
Lithium batteries have the potential to start and ignite flames in aircraft cargo and luggage compartments.
The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) of the United States Department of Transportation and the equivalent Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods (ICAO TI) of the International Civil Aviation Organization prohibit spare lithium batteries from being checked baggage to reduce the risk of lithium battery fires (including luggage checked at the gate or on-board the aircraft).
Passengers and crew personnel carrying spare lithium batteries for personal use are granted limited exceptions under the HMR and ICAO TI.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) highly recommends that certificate holders take the following steps:
• Ensure that every crew members and ground crew dealing with luggage and passengers are aware that incidents involving a battery or battery-powered device that result in severe fracture, eruption, fire, or hot enough to be dangerous to packaging or personal safety, including charring, melting, scorching, or other evidence, must be reported.
• Inform passengers that spare lithium batteries are excluded from checked luggage (including checked baggage at the gate) throughout the ticket purchase and check-in processes, and direct them to the appropriate website.
For further information, visit the FAA’s Pack Safe webpage (http://www.faa.gov/Go/Packsafe).
• In terms of lithium batteries, personal and medical electronic devices, and mobility aids, evaluate training and communication protocols in operations.
Before permitting a passenger or staff member to check their carry-on luggage, give them oral instruction to discard any reserve lithium batteries present in their hand luggage.
• If you have additional lithium batteries inside your carry-on luggage, make sure your staff knows what to do:
To avoid short circuits, each extra lithium battery must be independently shielded in separate packages such as grocery bags or tape to hide the terminals.
Spare batteries should not come into contact with metal things like coins, keys, or jewelry, and passengers should protect them against crushing, puncturing, or pressure.
The allowed amount and size of batteries must not be exceeded.
What Is The Maximum Number Of Power Banks You Can Bring On Board?
The TSA has the following to say about lithium-ion batteries that are less than 100 watt-hours:
According to the FAA and TSA, you can bring as many power banks as you like in your carry-on luggage as long as they are under 100 watts hours. Individual airlines may put restrictions on the number of battery packs that can be carried onboard (see below).
One hundred watt-hours equate to 26,800 mAh in lithium-ion chargers (milliamp hours). So, if your power bank has a capacity of less than 26,800 mAh, you can take it with you in your carry-on.
Make sure your batteries are protected from short-circuiting by taping the terminals or placing them in a battery case or bag.
During the screening, you can keep your power bank in your luggage.
And here’s what the TSA has to say about lithium batteries that are more than 100 watt-hours:
You should be permitted to bring your power bank onto the plane if its capacity is larger than 100 watt-hours but less than 160 watt-hours, but only with “airline approval.”
Lithium-ion batteries with a capacity of more than 160 watt-hours are not permitted on planes unless they are wheelchair batteries.
As a result, keep your power banks in your carry-on luggage. If the agent at the boarding gate informs you that the overhead bin is full, you must remove your power banks from your carry-on before it is gate-checked.
It’s a good idea to have a daypack with you so you may bring your valuables into the cabin. Fill this little bag with any electrical equipment, including batteries.
What Are the Options for Larger Portable Chargers?
Several airlines, including Delta, American, Southwest, Alaska, and Frontier, allow you to carry on an average of 20 power banks. They also allow you to use up to two larger charging devices with a combined power output of no more than 160 watts. Anything over 160 is prohibited.
On an aircraft, you can bring a portable charger, an external battery pack, or a power bank. If you could fit it in your carry-on luggage, that would be ideal. They’re treated as if they’re a spare lithium-ion battery that hasn’t been fitted. You can bring two batteries with a capacity of 101 to 160 watt-hours each but nothing beyond 160. Hopefully, it clears things up, and you’ll be able to charge your devices no matter where you go globetrotting.