Can you bring a power bank on a plane?
If you are into travel, you may or may not be that much into technology as well, but it is impossible to not acknowledge the importance of bringing your smartphone or your laptop with you on a long trip. These little accessories will allow you to enjoy your travel experience a lot more if you used them properly, but…
You may not be able to charge them as comfortably and easily as when you are in your home. This is why power banks (or charger banks) are important. And I’m pretty sure you do not want to get into trouble while flying, and I bet you did not know that you can get into trouble for them:
But don’t get scared, you actually can fly with your power bank without any problem! You just have to be a little more careful than you’d expect.
Let me explain why.
You may wonder, why airlines should care if you want to charge your phone or not while you are abroad, but this does have a reason:
Lithium batteries are prone to expand, catch fire, or even explode if not properly treated.
I’ll give you a little background.
Back on the third of September 2010, the first deadly crash of UPS Airlines was caused due to a fire on the storage; this resulted in the death of both crewmembers. The smoke created was so thick that they couldn’t even see the panel before their eyes and failed to land the plane.
A couple of years of investigation later, it was discovered that the fire was initiated by the batteries they were supposed to deliver.
The crash prompted a re-evaluation of safety procedures protecting airliners from cockpit smoke and with that came the FAA regulation which stated that pilots should depressurize the main cabin (This means, allowing the outside air to flow into the plane itself) and rapidly climb to an altitude of more than 6000 meters (21 000 ft approx) upon detection of a fire, as to suffocate the flames before they can propagate.
That surely is a scary thing to happen! Sudden and fast winds will be blown into the cabin. But it has a very good reason, is to deprive the flames of oxygen in a safe manner, as at an altitude of 5500 meters the amount of oxygen in the air lowers from 21% at sea level to 10%, more than half! Effectively extinguishing the fire.
This lead to the following list of rules that anyone that travels with some batteries has to follow:
Airline regulations for power banks and batteries
But don’t panic! The regulations are quite friendly and, not very hard to follow, just take these 3 things into consideration:
1. YOUR BATTERY HAS TO TRAVEL WITH YOU AND YOUR HAND LUGGAGE
This is because as I said, they can catch fire if they are not well treated. By having it in your hand luggage, you are allowing the air staff to react more quickly if there’s a little fire on the cabin rather than on the storage below or behind the plane.
2. YOUR BATTERY HAS TO BE BELOW A CERTAIN MAX CAPACITY
Most airlines impose a strict 27000mAh (or 100Wh) limit for your power banks. If you are below that limit, you can take it with you just fine.
But there are way bigger chargers, up to 41600mAh (A typical laptop has close to 6000mAh)! What if you work with your laptop, or you are a photographer and need to charge your whole kit? In that case, you will need to warn the staff beforehand (Call them with at least 72 hours of time) that you own a larger charger and they will tell you if you can take it with you or not, as it´s now considered a dangerous cargo.
3. YOU HAVE A LIMIT ON HOW MANY POWER BANKS YOU CAN TAKE
This depends on the airline:
- Delta’s limit on how many power banks you can take is 3
- Ryanair Airlines limit is 2
- Emirates Airlines is 2
- United Airlines is also 2
Those were just a few examples, but you get the idea.
So, just in case, let’s stick with a maximum of two so that you don’t have any problem whatsoever. Information by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Tips for bringing your power bank on a flight
These are some more things that you should keep into consideration, they are not that hard and you’ll be sure to leave the plane with your batteries feeling like a good and cautious citizen:
• Do you keep your phone and your keys in the same pocket? You shouldn’t! The metal can damage your phone and even break it. Just like that, you shouldn’t keep your power bank in a pocket with any hard material that can scratch it while flying.
• You can use tape (Duct tape, electrical tape, painter’s tape, it doesn´t really matter as the idea is to prevent anything external to get inside the exposed terminals) on both ends of the power bank. Making it much safer to travel with.
• Check that your battery is the below-said limit of 27000mAh. You can usually see the capacity printed on one of the sides of the power bank.
• You can keep your power bank in a little pouch or closed bag if it’s airtight and non-flammable even better! As it would prohibit any possibility of a random little fire propagating by preventing oxygen to fuel the fire.
• Get to the airport with your devices fully charged, and if you need to use your power bank in-flight ask for the permission of the flight attendance first. Consider that not every airline may allow you to use it anyway while on the air.
Also, if you are on a connected flight use those extra hours to refill your batteries!
It´s that simple! This is probably why you have never even heard of the restriction before reading this, as other dangerous cargo uses to get the attention more easily.
Other restricted items on flights
Now you know how to pass your charger without any problem. But, what about the other stuff you may travel with? Is there something else to take into consideration?
Well, of course. Travel agencies are extremely concerned about security, and this is a shortlist on what you can and cannot take with you on your trip, or else the airport’s security will confiscate it:
You can take with you a maximum of a liter (1000ml) on your hand equipment, but everything must be on a separate bag with a limit of 100ml each unless you bought it from during the flight or at the shops after passing through security.
Non-alcoholic (Water, juice, coke, etc.)
- Hand sanitizer
- Hair spray
- Liquid medicine
- Makeup products
- Vaping liquid
- Lighters (Electric or plasma lighters are NOT permitted altogether)
BUT, every single one must be on a separate bag and is not permitted to exceed 100ml each.
- Alcohol over 70% is strictly prohibited due to it being easily flammable.
- If under 70% percent you are allowed to take it with you on your checked luggage. (Maximum bottle limit depends on each airline, but for most the limit is on 5 liters of any type and strength of liquor)
- If under 24% you can take it with your hand luggage (In separate 100ml bags) but you CAN’T pour the alcohol without asking for the permission of the plane staff (And also, that’s very little beer or wine to take it with you really)
And I highly recommend you stick to this rule, as the fine for drinking alcohol without permission is up to 11000 dollars.
Anyway, JetBlue seems to be the most laid-back airline in this regard, other airlines may not even let you drink in-flight unless you bought it directly from them.
In your checked luggage you are allowed to take:
- Self-defense items, including firearms and its ammunition. But, better check your destination country laws regarding firearms before leaving.
- Sports goods (Hockey sticks, golf clubs, baseball bats, etc)
- Big sharp objects (Properly wrapped) like scissors or knives.
You are prohibited to take with you:
- Flammable items (You can take a lighter with you on your hand luggage if it’s below 100ml as stated before) like paint or gasoline.
- Chemicals (Fertilizer, bleach, chlorine)
- Explosive items (Fireworks, flares)
- Alcohol over 70%
Some more stuff to consider:
Food: In a domestic flight that’s not really a problem, but when traveling to other countries suddenly you are not allowed to pass any food nor agricultural products, In some countries, not even wood artifacts are allowed to get through!
Baby food: Luckily, airlines thought of this, and baby food is exhibited from the one-liter limit. We don’t need more reasons to hear them crying during the whole flight!
Medicine over 100ml: It needs the authorization to prove its authenticity.
Even some more stuff (This time, weird):
- You can’t take your Magic 8 Ball with you on your hand luggage! It will need to be left for your checked bags.
- You can’t take, nor with you nor in your equipment, your Samsung Galaxy Note 7.
- You are allowed to take your kettle, your Roomba, and your waffle iron with you on your hand equipment.
- You are allowed to take with you the cremated remains of a loved one in your checked bag.
- You are allowed to bring flowers on your hand luggage but remember the water limit.
- You can take your Harry Potter wand with you, as well as your lightsaber (Toy, I mean, if you have a real one… I don’t know what to tell you. But you should notify the airline 72 hours in advance, just in case).
I wish you a good flight!
Do you have any story to tell about something that happened to your luggage? Let me know below!