Traveling with Batteries? Don't Fly Without Knowing the TSA Restrictions First
Not being knowledgeable about the TSA's rules on flying with batteries could lead to some real trouble.
Look at you, you little travelin' filmmaker, with your gear packed up all nice and tight and your eyes beaming with excitement! It'd be a shame if you got to airport security and had to ditch your expensive batteries because you didn't know the TSA's restrictions and regulations regarding lithium ion. In this helpful video, Jay P. Morgan of The Slanted Lens shares a few tips on flying with batteries commonly used by filmmakers like yourself, including which ones fit the criteria, how many you can take on the plane, and how to pack them so they don't cause a problem at the security check. Check it out below:
When it comes to dry cell Alkaline batteries, the ones that you use once and then throw away (AA, AAA, D, 9-volt, etc.), the TSA allows you to bring as many as you want on the plane and permits you to pack them both in your checked and carry-on luggage. However, the TSA's rules on flying with rechargeable lithium ion batteries are a little more restrictive, imposing both size and quantity limits, as well as rules on storage.
Your lithium ion batteries can only be stored in your carry-on and "protected from damage," the main concern being the battery terminals short-circuiting by coming in contact with other metal. The TSA recommends leaving batteries in their original packaging, covering terminals with tape, using a battery case, using a battery sleeve in a camera bag, or storing them in a plastic bag or protective pouch. So basically, don't just toss your individual batteries in your carry-on.
The TSA permits lithium ion batteries with a rating of up to 100 Wh, so most of the smaller batteries you're used to are a-okay to fly with. In order to bring something bigger (101-160 Wh), you'll have to get airline approval.
How many lithium ion batteries can you bring on board? Well, as many as you want as long as they're under 100 Wh. What about bigger batteries that are over 100 Wh? With airline approval, you can bring up to two spares.
As you always should before flying with gear you've never traveled with, check to see if there are any TSA rules, restrictions, and regulations before bringing your expensive stuff to the airport. No one wants to start their trip sulking in the Wolfgang Puck Express because they had to leave their precious batteries with security.