Here’s a tip we didn’t see coming when we posted our Chase Jarvis TECH: Packing Photography Gear post a few weeks ago: It seems that the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation–effective January 1, 2008–are limiting the number, size, and location of spare lithium batteries we can travel with…
Chances are that if you’re a traveling photographer, you fly with spare lithium-ion batteries for laptops, cameras, flashes, etc. They’re the juice behind darn near everything. I know that we normally travel with boatloads of these things. I mean LOTS of ’em. But no longer can we:
Here’s the official press release for the new rule. By my understanding, this is an FAA/DOT regulation that has to do with the air/flight safety of these batteries and is not a TSA regulation. Quick research has it that lithium batteries are volatile and that if/when they catch fire, they burn HOT. (You heard about those laptop fires and this cargo plane fire…) Reportedly, if they catch fire in the belly of the plane, the mechanism for extinguishing such a blaze down there is insufficient. That explains why they want you to carry just a couple of them on board into the cabin – allowing use of a more effective fire extinguisher in the passenger portion of the plane to put them out quickly.
Experts say this should “not inconvenience the general traveling public” but will most likely affect “photography and video professionals”. That’s us.
[Video: Chase Jarvis TECH: Packing Photography Gear.]
[The DOT’s “extra battery” travel tips.]
I know this thread is old but wondered if Chase you’ve had problems checking-in your Broncolor battery packs since then. I’ve called up the Canadian TSA and they’re saying that lead acid is considered dangerous-goods now. Any thoughts? Thanks!
I may be in the minority here, but this appears to be yet another TSA solution in search of a problem.”
This new ruling comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
The ruling is endorsed by the the Federal Aviation Administration
The ruling is enforced by the US Dept of Homeland Security’s Transportation Safety Administration.
The TSA simply enforces the rule, it did not create the rule. In fact the biggest objector to the new ruling at the moment (from what I can find) is the TSA as they are totally unable to determine battery types on-site unless the battery is clearly labeled. They cannot test a battery without opening, which would destroy the battery and cause them a lot of problems.
You can read the 200 page report of the new regulations here
yo can also search the new regulations by popping open Google and searching the regulations that are being enforced as a result of 49 CFR Parts 171, 172, 173, 175.
PS: The TSA Agent’s really do have a hard job. I’d say in my experience probably 90% are just doing the right thing day in and day out. It’s the 10% that make it difficult to travel at times.
Good read. There are a few things with the UPS DC-8 fire. One is that there are many factors to a plane taking a long time to put out, packages are generally packed in flammable packaging (card board, etc). There were also initial reports of some delay in using the “harpoon” to directly inject the fire-foam through the skin of the aircraft which can often help stifle a fire quickly, however I am not sure if that was slopping 5:00 sensational journalism or not.
Additionally should a fire break out on a commercial flight in the cargo hold, the bigger factor to the rapid spreading of the flames would be items such as compressed gas in someone’s hairspray.
I just posted a “first day” update on my blog. Today I have spoken directly with two photogs who and a very frequent flyer. All had excess batteries, all have Li-Ion batteries, none were stopped or received extra screening.
I have also had correspondence with a TSA Agent-Screener who informed me that neither they nor any of their colleagues were doing any additional screening at their security check point for carry on bags in regard to batteries. They were focusing on loose batteries in checked bags.
You can read the full report from day one if you’d like at:
I am going to stay in contact with photogs flying all week and follow up with the TSA Agent (as well as another TSA agent I have been in contact with).
Let us all take a moment to take the countless morons who have filled a ziploc with assorted batteries of different voltage and size. Which causes a fire hazard.
Just put a NiMh sticker on them will be my thinking…
I have just gotten to where I fly with sweatpants and sandals to make my day easier but they keep making it tougher on us.
Consumer level cameras with battery grips could be an issue, you have two batteries inside, but only one spare?